Current news on The Egg Beat.
The American Egg Board – an industry funded, government-appointed marketing group – was revealed last week to have conducted an extensive campaign to discredit a vegan alternative to mayonnaise developed by Hampton Creek.
Reports the Guardian’s Sam Thielman:
Internal emails reveal coordinated attack by American Egg Board to quash the rise of Hampton Creek’s egg alternative in possible breach of federal regulations.
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones provides the larger picture
Associated Press reports the rising prices are due to multiple factors:
- an avian flu outbreak this spring that resulted in the killing of 48 million domestic chickens and turkeys, mostly in the Midwest.
- additional costs passed on to consumers by California producers, who pay an additional 20 cents per dozen eggs for chicken feed which comes primarily from the Midwest.
- the implementation of California’s Proposition 2, approved by California voters in 2008, which mandates all eggs sold in the state be from farms that allow chickens to move around freely. Under the law, egg-laying hens must have 116 inches of space, that deemed necessary to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their wings. Traditional battery cages provide 67 inches of space.
Reuters report on August 16 points to rising costs due to the avian flu outbreak and a limited supply of baby chicks and space to house them, after loss of 48 million chickens and turkeys. “Chicken and turkey producers say the egg and poultry industry faces up to two years of rebuilding to fully replace flocks.”
Head of the Humane Society promotes a new Massachusetts ballot measure to “stop extreme confinement of laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves, and to ensure that any shell eggs or whole, uncooked cuts of pork or veal sold in the state do not come from extreme confinement either.”
Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Bill Maher and other celebrities have been pressuring giant retailer Costco to “stop selling eggs from hens confined in tiny cages.”
With a wonderfully alarmist visual of an American Egg, cracked down the middle. Protect the Harvest blames the “radical animal rights movement” epitomized by the Humane Society of the United States.
According to this Fortune magazine report, the bird flu outbreak has alarming implications for factory farming:
“perhaps the most troubling aspect of the crisis is its implications for the viability of industrial-scale farming. The egg industry’s huge “layer operations”—the sort that house millions of birds in one place—are designed to protect birds from contamination, says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota at the University of Minnesota. The animals’ environment is tightly controlled, and workers who enter the henhouse follow special hygiene protocols; often, they must shower in and out, change clothes and wear special boots. But when a virus pierces such defenses, or when defenses lapse, having all of one’s eggs in one basket (so to speak) can make the impact more devastating.”
Barnraiser founder and entrepreneur Ellen Gordon Chiarello on the wonders of eggs from free-range chickens.
An informative 2007 primer on free-range eggs from Mother Earth News