Last week at the market, standing there freezing, smiling, selling to the wonderful customers that are so faithful even on rainy, unusually cold April days, I had an unexpected moment. A new customer came to the table and purchased eggs. They walked away, then came back. I love the time I get to spend chatting with everyone at the market, so I always welcome people who just want to stand and visit for a while. Part of the fun of the market is just getting to know people. I get all kinds of questions about our products, why they are labeled "Not for human consumption" or how we treat our birds, or what they eat. Then I get the great stories of little chickens that the kids hatched in school that turned out to be roosters they had to find homes for, or the chickens that climb up in your lap and like to eat out of your hand, or the tragedy of losing a favorite hen to the neighbor's dog. But this conversation went in a different direction.
I had previously introduced them to the fact that we do not wash our eggs, nor do we refrigerate them. I explained that egg shells are porous and naturally come with a coating that protects them and keeps them fresh. After all, the purpose of the egg is to grow a chick inside. Another customer came up to the table ready to buy eggs as well. I thought all was well and they were happy with my explanation, but they leaned in close, pointed at the eggs I had on display and said," Your eggs have poop on them. You need to wash them with bleach."
Usually I have a great idea of what to say, but for some reason this time I was embarrassed. Suddenly my products were "dirty". I had another customer waiting patiently, so I quickly replied, "Yes, you can take them home and do that." then turned to the next person in line and asked what I could get for them. I wanted to pull away, cover my embarrassment, and move on. Actually, for one split second, I wanted to hide all my dirty eggs, take them home and scrub them down in bleach. Then clarity came. Why is it we can always think of the right thing to say after the person is gone? The rest of the afternoon I muttered intelligent replies and creative comebacks. What it all boiled down to, I finally decided, (and it took me until today to vocalize it) was that our eggs, all our products in fact, give people choices.
Yes, you can buy a room full of eggs that have been washed pretty with bleach, but where can you find the egg that has not been bleached, or sprayed with a chemical, or been sitting in a warehouse for weeks? Well, at the Laughing Chicken farm stand, of course. What we do every day at this small plot of ground in Gilchist county gives people choices. What they do with those choices is not up to me. I can only put it out there. But thank God I am still allowed to put it out there.
So I guess I need a slightly thicker skin, and I need to stop trying to please everyone. My choice is tho offer what I believe in. Maybe next time I'll stand a little taller and smile a little wider doing it.