When I first moved to the US, I was surprised to see American eggs were kept refrigerated. In most other countries in the world, eggs are simply put on shelves to sell as refrigeration isn’t needed. The US recommends refrigeration for eggs as it supposedly cuts down on the chances of salmonella bacteria growing. So how now does the US have the largest egg recall in history, with more than half a billiion eggs contaminated with salmonella, yet the unrefrigerated eggs I buy in Thailand at a local market are perfectly safe? The answer is actually quite easy. The inhumane and cruel way American mega-corporations keep their chickens, compared to many other countries’ small free-range chicken farms.
If I buy eggs at a market or supermarket in Thailand, where I live, most of them are bought from small farmers who keep their chickens on chicken farms, with space to move around. The same goes for pretty much all undeveloped countries, as well as some developed countries, who prefer to eat eggs from free-range chickens surmising they’re healthier.
In the United States however, most eggs come from massive factories where chickens are kept in a sitting position nine or ten to a tiny cage, with no room to move around. In conditions beyond cruel, these birds live a short and painful life, pumped full of chemicals to make them produce more eggs, and then put to death as soon as their egg production slows. The stress these birds feel in their short and pain-ridden lives appears in hormones in the eggs they lay, These stress hormones are then passed onto Americans in the eggs they eat from these enormous egg factories.
The recent salmonella contamination of American eggs is also another reason not to eat eggs from corporate ‘farms’. The salmonella contamination is probably from rats, contaminated chickens or tainted feed. With the way most US corporate farms are run though, with chickens kept in tiny cages all crammed together, any contamination like salmonella will be transferred from chicken to chicken in the blink of an eye, regardless of where the salmonella contamination originally came from.
In Thailand, most eggs are still bought from small farmers who run traditional chicken farms. In a traditional chicken farm, the hens run around all day, pecking up feed from the dirt and living like any animal or bird should – somewhat free, with freedom of movement and the ability to grow strong and healthy. Producing eggs that don’t have stress hormones in them and with no chemicals pumped into their bodies to produce more eggs, eggs in Thailand are healthier than eggs in the US. Period.
Sure, Thailand has had problems a few years ago with H5N1 bird flu, but so has the United States. Recently, South Korea and Singapore were just two of the countries that refused to accept imported US chickens after a new strain of bird flu was found to contaminate thousands of chickens on a farm in Delaware. In Thailand though, the chicken flu outbreak was dealt with quickly, with only a few people getting sick and only six deaths. In the US at the moment, the salmonella contamination of half a billion eggs has led to severe sickness in more than 1,000 people with more expected as more of the contaminated eggs are consumed.
For most Americans, after this egg recall scare, a switch to free-range eggs would be a healthier option than continuing to buy factory-produced eggs from birds raised in inhumane conditions. Free-range or farm-produced eggs are available all over America, from the farms themselves, from health food stores, grocery stores like Whole Foods and even at many supermarket chains. Sure, they might cost $1 more but, if it was my famiily, I’d feel much happier putting what, I am almost guaranteed, are healthier and more nutritious eggs in my family’s bodies than the pumped-full-of-steroid-and-stress-hormone eggs you’re going to buy from a corporate chicken farm.
Egg Recall Expands to More Than Half a Billion Nationwide – The Huffington Post