I would like to think that most of us would choose to eat healthily & the most ethically way possible. The food industry continually makes this difficult.
Why You Should Never Buy Free Range Eggs?
We all know eggs from hens that have no room, never get outside, have their beaks burnt to prevent pecking, males are instantly killed. But what if I told you this is Free Range!
The Free Range pack often has a lovely roaming chicken displayed to confirm its status, though this could be far from the truth. Of course supermarkets make up names for their products to make them sound English & local. Slapping ‘free range’ on a box of eggs simply hides the catalogue of routine horrors that are allowed under this reassuring banner.
This stock picture is from an Organic Farm. (Also what I thought a Free Range Farm would be)
This picture below is from a Free Range Farm.
Up to 16,000 hens are crammed onto shelves in sheds with the end of their beaks cut off & male chicks gassed at just a day old. No anaesthetic is used but the UK industry continues to use the method even though many countries are phasing it out. They are typically only allowed to live for 72 weeks, after their egg-laying prime. They have access to outside but many never do because they are so hemmed in. The RSPCA states it's better for the hens not to have beaks to prevent mass pecking.
"Male chicks are suffocated or ground up alive & their sisters have beaks cut without pain relief.”
“As prices have been driven down, many free range farmers embraced multi-tier systems to keep up with consumer demand."
Yet nothing about these conditions is in breach of EU regulations of Free Range Category 1.
Symbols to look for when choosing your eggs
There are 4 grades of UK-produced eggs & the clue is stamped on the shell.
The symbols are: 0 – organic; 1 – free range; 2 – barn; 3 – enriched cages.
The British Lion symbol means eggs are vaccinated against salmonella.
Hens in the wild lay just 20 eggs per year but modern farms with high protein feed & near-constant lighting push them to lay closer to 500 eggs annually. Their exhausted bodies are then discarded within months – routinely sent to slaughter having lived less than 1/10 of their natural lifespan.
And that’s a long life compared to the male chicks. They are financially worthless to egg farmers & therefore killed within hours of their birth. On a daily basis unimaginable numbers get unceremoniously tossed into a machine and ground up alive, or gassed by carbon dioxide, or simply dumped in a bin bag and left to suffocate.
The answer seems to be to buy Organic Free Range eggs, not only are they fed natural food, they have much more room, no beak burning and are treated the best in the industry. Vegan's still would say its unethical even at this level, but seems far better than Free Range. The only way to avoid eggs laid by beak-trimmed hens is to buy those certified organic by the Soil Association.
In fact, buying Organic in any animal based product means the animals are treated the best, not only the healthiest for us. This includes Milk, Meat, Cheese etc.
"Ethical" and "sustainable" farming is a growing yet arguably just industry. It could be said there is no ethical way to eat animal products as they are in some way suffering because of us. This is the vegan viewpoint which is growing every year estimated at 250,000 in the UK.
The Rise of the ‘flexitarian’
I’m one such shopper. I’m a failed vegetarian, or flexitarian, as the growing numbers of people who eat only "ethical" meat occasionally are known. Though this is continually difficult to manage as you don't know where your meat or produce actually comes from but all things point to Organic, if you can afford it.
This is all of course if you care about where your food comes from and what's actually in it. Animal products & meat have become part of every meal, so much that the thought of not having it seems insulting & terrifying? After all we have to eat living things, don't we? But would you eat your cat? Well, what's the difference?
I believe that eating ethically makes me feel better, I wouldn't kill an animal that is next to me, so why should I eat it when its put in plastic in front of me? (I'm still a meat eater, for now..)
So for me I’ll only buy organic eggs. If they are not too expensive. Though not sure about how to buy from cafes or restaurants...
I'll be looking into veganism, sustainability & ethical foods in later weeks...