Have you ever wondered why we eat turkey everything, except eggs? Yeah, me neither. However, once the question is asked our lack of turkey egg consumption is a curious thing. Slate lays down the facts:
…they’re expensive. Chicken hens are egg-laying dynamos, dropping one almost every day, while a turkey produces only about two per week. Chickens begin laying eggs at about five months of age, but turkeys don’t have their first cycle until more than two months later. Commercial egg producers typically, although controversially, allocate less than 50 square inches of space to a hen. Turkeys are given more than 3 square feet, enough to accommodate eight chicken hens. Turkeys also require more food than chickens. These factors combine to make turkey eggs far more expensive than chicken eggs. A dozen chicken eggs currently cost approximately $1.61. (Cage-free eggs cost twice as much.) There’s no nationwide data on the cost of turkey eggs—the USDA doesn’t even have grading regulation for turkey eggs—but many producers sell them for $2 to $3 per egg.
So there you go. Market forces have prices chicken eggs so much lower than turkey that the “turkey egg market’ doesn’t really exist. It didn’t always used to be so:
Turkey eggs used to be a menu staple in North America. Wild turkeys roamed the continent before the arrival of humans, and archaeologists have found turkey-egg shells at the encampments of pre-Columbian Americans. Hopi Indians consider the eggs a delicacy. (The Navajo ate only the flesh of turkeys, however, European settlers noted.) Europeans took domesticated turkeys across the Atlantic in the 16th century, and turkey eggs were soon a part of Old-World cuisine, particularly in England. Americans also served them until fairly recently. Turkey egg omelettes were a regular offering at New York’s legendary Delmonico’s restaurant in the late 19th century.
I am now officially intrigued. Perhaps I’ll visit a local turkey farm in the near future. This isn’t a food blog, but I will make an exception for a turkey omelette.