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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Egg Activism #1: At last

OK. I've been promising this entry for ages.

Please read the entry below as my personal log entry for a long-term research project. Do not take the information I present here as fact (yet). I am telling you what I have heard. I have not yet verified all of the information. Anyone who wishes to help me with this research is most welcome to do so.

Months and months and months ago I drafted a letter that I intended to send to free-range egg companies. The letter basically said that observant eco-Jews face a problem with buying eggs. Many of us want cruelty-free free range eggs. However, when buying these eggs, we face a higher number of eggs with blood spots. Since we can't eat blood, we have to throw the things out.

I asked what causes blood spots and if there is any way to prevent them. (I was hinting, of course, that the farms I wrote to should try to prevent them so that we can eat their product. I even offered to write an article in the local Jewish newspaper about whose eggs they should buy and why.)

I finally sent a draft of the letter to a farm after a frustrating day when I had to throw out my last egg and, as a result, had a protein-less breakfast. I got a call from the farmer of this place only two days later! We talked on the phone for a bit and he told me some things that really surprised me.

1. The spots I was referring to are technically referred to as meat spots, not blood spots.

Now, this doesn't change the halakhic problem of us eating them, but it was interesting that in all these time I never realized there was a distinction made in the egg industry.

2. The farmer I spoke to claims that meat spots are caused, not by blood, but by a genetic condition found in brown chickens. Brown chickens, he told me, are meant to live free-range. White chickens, by contrast, are always caged, but do not have the same genetic condition.

Again, this doesn't answer the question of whether or not we can eat those eggs, but it is different than anything I've heard before about fertilization and whether or not you are actually eating blood or, in fact, an unkosher chicken when you have an egg with a spot on it.

3. The point that most surprised me about the conversation is actually as follows. After I was told that "meat spots" are a genetic condition, I asked what the farmer recommended I do to avoid getting them. He encouraged me to buy caged eggs. I was surprised. I assumed that a free-range egg farmer would discourage me from buying eggs from a caged hen. However, he claims that the conditions for these chickens are not quite as bad as I've heard. There was a time, for example, when chickens' beaks were amputated in caged egg farms. Now, they are trimmed because they are very very sharp beaks. There are better standards now. Maybe things really aren't as bad as I've heard reported in standard chicken farms.

I asked who supervises farms such as these to ensure that animals are treated appropriately. The farmer I spoke to didn't know.



So all this has got me wondering... have I been on an unnecessary mission? Are regular cheap eggs really ok for my conscience?

Well...

4. This past week I got a carton of "Country Golden Yolks" at Safeway (of all places) anyway. I'm not giving up yet on free-range eggs. I'm halfway through the carton and haven't found a single spot. Were these eggs candled first to eliminate eggs with spots? Was the information I received before inaccurate? I don't know. The next step will be, I think, to write a new letter to Country Golden Yolks and try to find out more information.

I probably won't get around to this for awhile... but stay tuned.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Urban Wild said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:34 AM

 
Blogger Urban Wild said...

Hi,

The BC SPCA has a humane labeling farm
program and at least one non-white chicken egg producer is a participant.

http://www.spca.bc.ca/farm/participants.asp

Maybe they know of a white chicken egg
farm that may be close to becoming a
member of the program or meets nearly all of the criteria.

Al

11:40 AM

 

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