Pee power is often heralded as a sustainable design solution that can yield plant fertilizer or even power your cell – but using urine to prepare a delicious springtime snack is a whole different story. Chinese delicacies are renowned for being inventive, and these so called “virgin eggs” are no different. This snack has a long tradition in the city of Dongyang, where generations of people have prepared the eggs (or tong zi dan) using urine. While it may sound unappetizing, the virgin eggs are believed to provide essential nourishment and help boost resistance to illness. But they sure take a lot of work to prepare, and they involve collecting urine from boys under the age of 10.

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So how are they made? At the end of a school day containers and tubs filled with urine are collected from schools. Chicken’s eggs are then soaked and boiled in the liquid, and once fully cooked, each one is removed, cracked and popped back into the urine to simmer. The entire process can easily take a day to finish off, and so the delicacies are sold for double the price of an average hard-boiled egg.

Advocates of the practice say that the delicacies have magical nutritional qualities that are thought to help reduce body heat, reinvigorate the body and support circulation, but only if the pee used is that of a virgin boy. Now, to dissipate growing skepticism, in 2008 the local government listed the eggs as an “intangible national heritage.” But despite the food’s long tradition in the city, no-one really knows why urine is preferred over the more popular liquid used in egg-preparation in China – good old-fashioned tea.

Via Colors Magazine

Images courtesy of SuSanA Secretariat of Sustainable sanitation and Ryan McFarland