“Organic” is not always what it seems

Careful where you buy your “organic” eggs!
As people are becoming increasingly aware of the downside of industrial animal agriculture for our collective health, the well being of animals, and the environment, the industry is getting more and more savvy about “giving consumers what they want” without really making a serious commitment to long-term systemic changes. Take, for example, this article from the October 5 edition of the Grand Rapids Press. The moral of the story? Indulging blind faith in food labeling is probably not a good strategy for maintaining a peaceable table. If you’re going to buy the product, get to know your farmer and request a visit to the production facility.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted October 10, 2007 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Did the farmers in that article not maintain satisfactory animal husbandry? I didn’t really catch anything wrong–I mean I don’t know much about what else could be done, but the chickens are cage-free right? …And not hormone injected, and are fed organic feed… Is this not good enough to support?

  2. Posted October 10, 2007 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    (not sure if my first post went through)…Are the farmers in the article not doing enough to assure satisfactory animal husbandry? It seems to me that cage-free and anti-hormone injecting, and organic feeding are pretty good….but is this not enough?

  3. Posted October 16, 2007 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your comment, Aaron. I should have been more specific about what the remaining concerns are. First of all, most people who buy organic, cage-free eggs are hoping to put a bit more distance between themselves and factory farming than this arrangement allows; in this case, one is bascially just supporting the organic wing of a multi-million hen factory organization. If one is going to buy eggs, it is preferable, I think, to buy them from a considerably smaller operation where one has checked out the conditions under which the hens are laying. Second, the conditions under which these “organic” eggs are produced in large factories are somewhat better than battery cage production conditions, but still pretty awful, generally speaking. The large organic operations I’ve seen are basically large rooms with concrete floors, a little straw bedding, and an opening into a small wire fenced “yard” that only a fraction of the layers can occupy at any given time. In any case, the layers cannot feasibly engage in any of their natural instinctual behaviors under these conditions (dust bathing, establishing a natural pecking order, digging for grubs and feeding naturally, etc.).

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