Free Range Eggs- the worst you can choose?

lizzie green

I’ve just read a kids book about a little girl freeing caged hens, and the message at the end is: Everybody, buy free range so the hens don’t suffer any more! But of course the term free range has since been hijacked to mean “trapped in a giant cage with thousands of other birds”.  Ever read that on a supermarket shelf?

Have a look at the wikipedia page for free range eggs:

Free-range-hens

I’m always reading about and seeing these warehouses, crammed with thousands of birds, with doors that aren’t opened. Noble foods is definitely one to avoid as they have been caught using human slaves from Lithuania and other countries, working 24 hr plus shifts and getting ill from the chicken bacteria, but nothing much was done about it.

The next 2 links are for a 2010 investigation, made by Viva into the “Happy Egg company” owned by Noble foods. More recent evidence can be found with a simple google search:

The RSPCA dismissed the evidence as out of context, and Noble foods said they would be conducting their own audits to ensure welfare standards are met.
This is the Happy Egg website, with videos of some of their farms which appear to adhere to welfare standards.
My concerns are:
  • these farms could be showcase farms, which do not produce the bulk of the eggs consumers buy
  • there is no wide-pan view of the conditions indoors, although we can hear the cacophony of chickens in one of the shots
  • although there are 2000 chickens per hectare, the footage does not appear to show this many birds out on the fields, and a lot of footage shows empty fields,
  • chickens will inevitably stressed when in the unnatural condition of living among so many other birds; they need the hierarchical “pecking order” to feel safe and thrive
  • chickens may be guarding the entrances and not allowing some of the more timid birds to go outside
  • the chickens have a life span of several months before they are killed for meat
  • the birds have been genetically engineered to produced an egg “every 26 hours”, which drains the bird, in comparison to 50-200 eggs a year for more traditional breeds of chicken
  • Slaughter of day old chicks, transport of chickens to the slaughter houses crammed into crates on lorries, the effect on the local environment.. O.K, I could go on…
It might not be on the news every day, but factory farms still exist, and create over 99% of animal products (most of which don’t even bother with the free range label), so we need to stop funding them. My partner has stopped buying those eggs because of how they taste (as well as the human slavery factor!) It’s worth the extra pennies per egg, to not pay people to torture the birds, and to eat something that didn’t come from a wretched diseased animal.
There are plenty of small farms which actually adhere to welfare standards, so with some judicious reading of labels and internet research you can still have your eggs and toast in the morning, without you or the chicken dropping dead from food poisoning!
And to be sure no animals were hurt in the making of your food, try eating vegan, it’s now easier and more practical than ever to boycott factory farms.
Think about it, learn about it. Remember, the egg companies don’t want us to.
Advertising campaign from Noble Foods
Advertising campaign from Noble Foods
“Free range” chickens at Noble foods in 2010
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6 thoughts on “Free Range Eggs- the worst you can choose?

  1. I finally joined the backyard chicken movement. We now have 6 beautiful hens to give incredible eggs. When I was younger I worked at an egg farm…so sad. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Deb, That sounds so exciting! I’ll be following the progress of your garden- I moved to Wales last year, and just have a yard full of pots, there’s no room for chickens here. But there’s plenty of small farms nearby, so I’m going to ask if anybody needs help cleaning out their poo, just so I can be around them and learn their ways 🙂

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      1. I’m sure you won’t have any problem getting someone to help. Sometimes too many people like to help to much if you get my meaning. I just went with my gut and learned a lot from shows that are from your side of the world, like The Edible Garden with Alys Fowler, Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Klien, Fork to Fork with Monte Don and any show with Alen Titchmarsh….Here in America, our shows suck…lol….any woo….I watched those shows on YouTube and learned so much..unfortunately, The Edible Garden was taken off do to copyright…..if you haven’t watched any of those…please do. Take care…oh, I went to Wales in 08, beautiful!

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  2. I love all of those shows, especially Alys Fowler! Her books are really good too if you can get your hands on any, I like the ones about foraging for wild plants as well as the edible garden one. I grew up watching gardening programmes with my mum, but I only started trying to grow my own veg just over 2 years ago, so I’ve got plenty to learn. The beasts got at most of my crops this year, I’m going to try again with better netting next spring ;,(

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