Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your organic eggs may be factory farmed eggs!

Chickens that are raised on grassy fields with some room to run have superior eggs in both flavor as well as nutrients.

How are most of the organic eggs in the United States being raised?

Factory farms where birds are packed into buildings in high densities are raising 80% of the organic eggs on the market. Aviaries have wall-to-wall hens. Sometimes they also have floor to ceiling hens.  US Organic specifications require outdoor access. Some of these factory farms provide no outdoor access although technically it is required. Some provide small outdoor screened in porches and fewer yet provide small areas of dirt with no plant life. Chickens need ample space, fresh air, grass, sunlight and bugs. This factory farming industry has lobbied for cheap feed and factory farm production methods. They are trying to take over the organic egg industry and in so doing are not really selling what we use to consider as an organic egg. To get a real organic egg you need to purchase it from a local farmer at their farm or at the small local health food store or at a farmers market. Real organic eggs are getting hard to find no matter how they are labeled. The best thing to do is grow your own!

These organic factory farms have lobbied for the use of things like synthetic methionine, which has to be fed to birds that are not let out to run in a natural pasture environment. Synthetic methionine was supposed to be phased out 5 years ago. Instead, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to extend its use past October 2010, the current sunset date. It will be 5 years before methionine is reviewed again. These factory farmers have invaded the organic industry and are lobbying for and receiving laws that should not exist in organic production methods.

We need to let the NSOB know that we want stricter organic standards for organic eggs and organic chickens. The regulations clearly state that organic egg producers must give outdoor access to their chickens. The organic factory farmers need to comply with the rules that exist. We must tell them to prohibit small porches as outdoor access areas. Birds need to have outdoor access in grassy areas. Outdoor areas should be at least as big as the henhouse itself. Better yet would be to make the outdoor areas larger than the henhouse, like is required in Europe.  Synthetic methionine should not be given to the birds and would not be needed if they were raised appropriately.

If you want to learn a little more and tell the NOSB you want real organic eggs on the market, go this website to learn a bit more and if you wish send a comment to the NOSB.

Refuse to purchase "organic" factory farmed eggs and tell your grocer you get your eggs somewhere else if all they sell are these eggs. If you can't grow your own chickens (many cities have laws that allow hens) purchase your eggs from a local organic farmer, go to your local farmers market or call all the grocery stores and ask if they carry local eggs from small organic farms. They are usually around somewhere it is a matter of investigating. Tell your friends and neighbors where to buy them once you find out.

Please forward this blog to others who eat eggs.