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Twelve Brown Eggs

Jack L. Mayer, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(8):1098. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390080088040.
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Twelve brown eggs. Every Wednesday they're on my desk like a dozen inflated pennies. Mrs Labelle leaves them as payment on her bill in my pediatrics office on the Canadian border. She has little money but lots of chickens. In the northeast kingdom of Vermont the "economic recovery" doesn't mean much in terms of cold cash.

When I first came to this town ten years ago, filled with the romance of rural New England, I posted a sign inviting barter: "Times are tough. If you are having trouble paying your bill, I would be happy to discuss bartering goods or services." It wasn't long before Mrs Boisonneau began crocheting a series of blankets, hats, and sweaters that far exceeded the number of beds, heads, and bodies in my family.

Anthony and Edward Delain seemed to pick up every croup, otitis, and bronchitis plaguing the county, but Mr Delain, an independent


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