Big article in the Business section of the LA Times April 8 on the Humane Society going undercover to expose chicken factory farm cruelty. I’m sure all Polloplayer readers are buying cage-free eggs by now, but just in case there’s a straggler or two out there, this may be of interest to you: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2010/04/investigation_rose_acre_rembrandt_040710.html.
According to the article in the LA Times, the Humane Society of the US has been “buying chunks of stock in publicly traded food companies, in part to be able to introduce shareholder resolutions and pressure company executives to alter their purchasing decisions.” As a result of this strategy, some companies, including Wendy’s, Sonic Corp. and the parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s restaurant chains have all begun using cage-free eggs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the nation’s largest grocer, announced in February that their private-label eggs are now cage-free, as well.
Cage-free does not necessarily translate to chickens wandering free to feast on grass and bugs, but it is a step away from what the Humane Society terms “appalling cruelties” at the nation’s top egg producers. The organization’s undercover investigation at several factory farms in Iowa spawned claims of extremely rough handling of birds resulting in broken bones, cruel depopulation methods (even the euphemism is distressing), trapped birds unable to reach food and water and a host of other troubling findings. At one farm, the Humane Society found battery cages stacked eight high and holding two million birds.
Every time I read one of these articles, I think not just about the chickens but of families struggling to put food on their tables. A carton of eggs is one of the lowest-cost high-protein foods you can buy, and there is no way to change factory farming practices without the cost of eggs going sky-high. So it’s not all as simple as it seems. But if you can afford it, help out a chicken today and make sure the eggs you buy are cage-free.