Why Egg Prices are Bananas

Eggs have become the new way to build wealth in America. Here's why and what probably won't happen next (but could).

Why Egg Prices are Bananas

They say that most Americans build their wealth through their home, but anymore, most Americans store their wealth in egg cartons. My financial advisor has always said I shouldn't put all my eggs in one basket, but after buying a dozen, who can afford another basket anyway?

I have suspicions that China's intention with all of their balloons these days has little to do with spying and gathering intelligence about our military capabilities and more to do with their desire to taunt us. Think about it. By floating the world's most expensive "eggs" airborne above our heads, they poke the bear a little, and next thing you know, we're at each other's throats over who caused inflation. I haven't run this theory by the intelligence community yet, but if I get a chance, I will tell them to remind China that we didn't fall for it, and it's not us that has egg on our face, even if it does look like we have a few in our skies.

I eat a lot of "pre-chickens," as I like to call them. (I like to recognize someone for their potential rather than their shortfallings). I'd be a shell of a man if I didn't crack a few every morning as part of this complete breakfast to give me the protein and energy I need to get by. So no matter what they cost, as a matter of survival, I'll be eating at least two of them (plus whatever finds its way into my garlic aioli).

I'm not just an egg eater, I'm an egg lover. The sunnier, the better if it rests on top of a breakfast hash or a burger. I guess you could say my enthusiasm for food and beverage is bookended with eggs and bourbon, my two staples (and a great pairing, by the way). Though I decided to take the first month of the year to abstain by observing rye January, a month to reset by drinking only rye whiskey. But anymore, they're keeping the good stuff behind the counter, or it's being traded on the secondary market in the case of bourbon. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the same happen for huevos, and in California, it looks like that is already the case, according to border patrol agents who are catching an increase in illegal egg smuggling across the border.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy blames Biden for the egg crisis, although this doesn't explain why Kevin doesn't have any. As always, it's a best practice to blame your political opponent for what ails you, but at this price, I expect our eggs to cure cancer.

In an effort to uncover why egg prices have inflated more than my waist did for my whole Covid lockdown season, I did some research. For those of you looking to scram, the spoiler is that Joe didn't do it, and neither did anyone else. The real answer is pretty sick, though. Avian bird flu level sick.

The biggest cause of the cost increase of eggs comes from a chicken-demic, which naturally causes an egg-frying-pan-demic as a byproduct. This is because poultry farms are seeing an unprecedented outbreak of avian bird flu, and birds are dropping like flies (and we may find we have to update the expression). The typical approach to prevent a significant loss of livestock is to ask some chickens to make the ultimate sacrifice. That's right. The farmer will kill the infected chickens to save the rest of the flock. But this year, the bird flu outbreak has been much worse than ever in history due to mutations of the disease, which seem to be keeping the virus active for longer and taking out more chickens.

Some experts suggest that a recent dip in wholesale prices tell us that prices may catch up and calm the pain in the poultry aisle, but the flu continues to run rampant even across wild birds and has even spread to mammals, which may mean that sea lions are the next thing to get expensive (I've yet to try one myself).

The reason why this matters to us is obvious. Because you can literally put an egg on anything and call it breakfast. But more important than the most important meal of the day is the risk of importing the avian flu to humans. According to the CDC, this is possible but it is not very likely (depending on how friendly you get with your birds, I suppose). But every expert quoted in every article I've read seems to be crossing their fingers, if I'm reading their tone correctly. Here's how Richard Webby put it, an infectious disease researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and resident go-to guy for bird flu studies:

“This is the number one potential pandemic virus everyone has been interested in for a long time... But we cannot assume that will remain the case, and we must prepare for any change in the status quo.”

Anice Lowen, a virologist and associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine, said this:

“It’s a series of events, each of which is fairly improbable. This is why I say the risk to humans is presently low. The evolutionary barriers are high, It is a numbers game. So that’s one reason why the scale of the current avian outbreak is concerning. We don’t have an immune response against H5. That’s why the virus has pandemic potential,”

Pretty reassuring.

When we address human infection, it's easy to be dismissive. Especially when only one human infection has been recorded so far. Perhaps we can move on to not worrying any longer. The concern is only worthy of print because the sheer volume of birds infected and the evident infection of mammals has heightened the risk flu will mutate and expand further, as it has to mammals already.

I'm not one to freak out about pandemics. I especially wasn't in 2019, but I'm only marginally more sensitive about them now. Not because I'm afraid of dying or killing someone else with bad breath, but because I don't have the energy for another civil war. The last pandemic was close enough. Besides, we didn't do well in the dress rehearsal, it's hard to expect much more of our performance for the live production.