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The (distant) future of eggs

Home-laid abbey eggs

It has been nice to see a number of stories in the past month about major restaurant chains switching to cage-free eggs. But it’s a slow process. There’s an awful lot of industrial chicken infrastructure that has to be changed. And even hens that aren’t in cages are not exactly living in chicken heaven. The majority of cage-free hens will still be packed into big, crowded barns with no access to the outdoors.

Wendy’s restaurants announced yesterday that they will go cage-free by 2020. Starbucks and Panera also have promised to go cage-free by 2020. McDonald’s and Subway will take 10 years to go cage-free — 2025.

This is a start. Surely it was the market, or “consumer sentiment,” that demanded this change. People are becoming increasingly aware of our cruelty to animals kept on industrial farms. However, I suspect that, for psychological reasons, most people have less denial in thinking about chickens raised for eggs, because laying hens aren’t slaughtered (not, at least, when they’re still young). It’s easier to think about the lives of laying hens than about the short lives of broiler chickens.

Here’s a link to a nice Chicago Tribune story on cage-free egg farming. A farmer is quoted as saying that he keeps his hens for over seven years before they’re sent off to be made into soup. I’m a bit skeptical that hens are kept that long.

Though I love knowing that all my eggs are laid just up the hill, I’m very aware that having chickens is not for everybody. If I were buying eggs, I’d just pay extra for the most hen-friendly eggs I could find.

Given a choice on a January day between a grassy orchard and the woods, the girls prefer the woods, though they also spend time in the orchard to get the clover and chickweed.

Green grass and chickweed from a warm and wet December


One Comment

  1. Jo wrote:

    If memory serves me correctly, I only purchased a dozen eggs in 2015. That was to dye Easter eggs with great-grands. My daughter and son-in-law have chickens and share the eggs with me. I thank the chickens by passing lettuce scraps to them. They love greens.

    Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

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