It seems the dark side of factory farming has reared its ugly head once again in the name of greater profits, or as the owners of these “farms” might say … efficiency. When more than 32 million dozen eggs were recently recalled due to salmonella contamination, we, the consumers, got caught on the wrong side of the manure shovel.
About factory farms
Chickens on factory egg farms live in deplorable conditions not found in nature. Over-crowded, caged with little access to fresh air and natural sunlight, these birds are basically abused animals. They are also fed an unnatural diet. Chickens are omnivores, which means they not only eat grains, but they also eat bugs and grubs and just about anything else that interests them. Therefore, chickens are not meant to be vegetarians. While it may seem healthier to label eggs as such, it is simply a marketing tactic.
On small, family farms you will find farmers regularly supplementing the natural diet of their “pastured hens” (those raised outside in the sunshine and fresh air) with compost scraps of vegetables, fruits, meat, etc.
Chickens need what all animals need: fresh air, ample space to run and move, exposure to sunlight and fresh food. Deprive them of these basic necessities and conditions are ripe for salmonella.
Why small and local is better
The answer to the egg situation and similar food recalls is a decentralized, local food system, says Steve Moreau, a local food advocate and distributor in Orlando, Florida. “Why should we get our eggs from Iowa when we can get them locally and regionally?” Moreau asks. “Consolidation encourages business efficiencies that promote cutting corners and no amount of regulations can overcome that factor.”
Moreau says we also need to support small farmers who use natural practices.
“This is what I do and what my organization is part of. All my farmers are small and practice humane, sustainable, pasture-based farming. The costs are higher but this ensures our access to high quality food. The chickens run around in open fields and eat a natural diet. This is just one of the differences between our eggs and store bought eggs. We know our farmers personally.”
The fate of the “tainted” eggs
So what’s going to happen to all those recalled eggs? Timothy Martin, food retail reporter for The Wall Street Journal recently offered this direct response to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” host Andrea Seabrook:
SEABROOK: Ten seconds for our last question: where do all the tainted eggs go?
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah. They are going two places. Either they’re broken up and pasteurized. Like I said, pasteurized sort of, you know, nukes out the salmonella.
Mr. MARTIN: And second, in some cases, they’re just tossed away.
Moreau fears many, if not all, of these tainted eggs will be pasteurized, turned into dried egg powder and go back into the food supply in cake mixes and other processed foods.
“The producers will turn around and sell you the same eggs they told you to throw away. So where is the incentive to clean up their act?”
Read the full story here:
Benefits of eggs raised on pasture: