The organic standards advocates at the Cornucopia Institute recently released the second edition of their organic egg report & scorecard, Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.
The report seeks to “highlight the good news in the organic egg industry by showcasing the true heroes, including national and local producers that are supplying ethically-produced organic eggs and are worthy of consumer support — and those who are going “beyond organic” with intensively pastured birds in mobile housing,” according to Cornucopia.
Petaluma-based RedHill Farms scored exceptionally well in Cornucopia’s accounting – five eggs. Producers in this category “manage diverse, small to medium-scale family farms. They raise their hens in mobile housing on well-managed and ample pasture or in ﬁxed housing with intensively managed rotated pasture. They sell eggs locally or regionally under their farm’s brand name, mostly through farmer’s markets, food cooperatives and/or independently owned natural and grocery stores and sometimes through larger chains like Whole Foods.” RedHill represents “the gold standard-frequently rotated in high-quality pasture.”
Clover Organic fared considerably worse – just two eggs.
The two-egg companies “are either industrial-scale operations or others with outstanding questions or concerns regarding their compliance with USDA regulations.” These operations distinguish themselves the “ethically-challenged” one-egg companies due to their willingness to reach for a certain amount of transparency, and share some information about how their hens are cared for with customers and Cornucopia researchers.
Scoring at the bottom of the heap among the Petaluma organic egg producers was Judy’s Family Farm, scoring just one egg.
Such producers are “industrial-scale egg operations that grant no meaningful outdoor access. “Outdoor access” on these operations generally means a covered concrete porch that is barely accessible to the chickens. Means of egress from the buildings are intentionally small to discourage birds from going outside, and make it possible for only a small percentage of birds to have “access” to the outdoors. No producers in this category were willing to participate in The Cornucopia Institute’s project, and none shared their production practices with Cornucopia researchers. This is disturbing to many organic consumers, since transparency has always been viewed as a hallmark of the organic food movement.”
View the full Cornucopia report and an executive summary here.
Among the primary goals of Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture is to “highlight the good news in the organic egg industry by showcasing the true heroes, including national and local producers that are supplying ethically-produced organic eggs and are worthy of consumer support — and those who are going “beyond organic” with intensively pastured birds in mobile housing.”
For more background on what “organic” means in relation to chicken and eggs, read Jill Richardson’s take on the first edition of the Cornucopia report for Alternet in 2010 – Are Organic Hens Really Healthier and Tastier and from Happier Chickens than Conventional Eggs?