The beauty of a good egg 

When "simple" delivers and it's not in a basket

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As for that lifespan, conventional chickens in a factory egg farm are usually killed when they are just under a year, at the end of their peak production time. But the Helmers, who raise heritage breeds like Chanteclers (also bred by Delaney Zayak and Alisha Dick at Ice Cap Organics), have had them live seven years.

Throughout that lifetime, it's how the chicken is raised and what they eat that makes a good egg. Yes, the breed counts, to a point. But as Jennie and Sarah McMillan at Pemberton's Rootdown Organics both point out, it's chickens scratching around on the ground eating "insects and green stuff" that makes for a nice deep yellow yolk that stands up, and an equally firm white (the clear stuff around the yolk, more technically known as albumen).

Beware old eggs: you'll know right away for the yolks and whites will be runny like water. And don't be fooled by commercial egg tricks-of-the-trade, like adding "nature-identical" carotenoids (found in plants) such as apo-ester and canthaxanthin to feed to make the yolks yellower, without the best practices that back up the optics.

As for eggs raised from scratch, so to speak, other than local farmers' markets, where you'll find Rootdown eggs this summer, no one in Pemberton sells eggs commercially because it's a tough go. Most people resist paying $6 a dozen — which barely covers costs for ground-scratching chickens — when they can grab a dozen on sale for $1.99 at a big box store.

But what do you get for your two bucks?

Not exactly the beauty of a farm-fresh egg simply done up like this: "I think my favourite way is poaching," says Sarah. "I love — love — a runny yolk! If you can pop an egg in your mouth and bite it, and get that spurt of yolk through your mouth, I love that so much."

Here's a tip from Sarah: you can poach a perfect egg, as above, without a fancy-pants egg poacher. Just get a medium-sized pot, fill it as full as you can with water, bring it to a rolling boil and drop in your good eggs for two minutes. That's it. A good, firm fresh egg will hang together without its shell, and a bigger pot means the whites won't mix.

Jennie takes hers simple, too: soft-boiled at two and a half minutes is perfect, with the egg in the pot of water from the start.

But if you're like most Whistlerites, chances are you often take your eggs at a place like the aforementioned Southside Diner, where they figure that sous chef Charles "Chucky" Cadrin-Ouzilleau has cracked 600,000 eggs in his six years of doing breakfasts. They're going to buy him a T-shirt when he hits a million.

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