Friday, September 24, 2010

Don't Throw the Bath Water out with the Baby

In an era in which everyone is trying to make ends meet, why not take your chances on some DeCoster eggs? With medical and dental insurance costs on the rise, and Republicans threatening to make Swiss cheese out of the Obama health care plan, it makes sense to cut corners. Warehousing and discounting have enabled the rise of Walmart and shopping clubs like BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s. But as the Times pointed out recently, there are many people who can’t even afford to stockpile. This has accounted for the rise of the dollar store, where it’s possible to purchase very small amounts of merchandise at bargain prices (“Stores Scramble to Accommodate Budget Shoppers,” NYT, 9/21/10). Now, a new market is opening for seconds—tarnished and even diseased goods. Say there’s a little salmonella in my eggs, and say they have even caused deaths to elderly patients, as some did at Bird S. Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island (“An Iowa Egg Farmer and a History of Salmonella,” NYT, 9/21/10)—what is the point of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? In fact, sometimes it makes sense to throw out the baby and save the bathwater. Here you have millions, even billions of eggs that are going down the tubes, and yet you have needy families and hungry kids. One omelet looks as good as the next, and an argument can be made that a few salmonella infected eggs mixed in with some trichinosis infected bacon can add up to a satisfying Betty Crocker style breakfast. What better way to spur cash squeezed American families on their way to prosperity? Why should it be the burden of the eggs to make sure they get there?

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