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Does Cage-Free Equal the Good Life?

Posted By G Living Staff Monkies On April 23, 2008 @ 11:49 am In Green Report / Media | 2 Comments

When cage-free eggs first became as fundamental a part of my weekly shopping routine as Cheerios, I had just moved to New York’s East Village. Union Square featured an organic farmers market where a woman named Rosa sold nothing but cage-free eggs from her farm in Queens. (For those of you who don’t know – though few and far between, there actually are farms in Queens.) Judging from the amount of pride Rosa had in her product – and the fact that the lines for her eggs were often the longest in the market – I was able to surmise that, relatively speaking, these hens were living a good life.

Even after moving to Brooklyn, I remained Rosa’s loyal customer until my relocation to Los Angeles forced an end to my patronage. Those weeks I wasn’t able to make it because of rain, snow or my hectic schedule, I would make an effort to find cage-free eggs in the supermarket. Though more expensive, I was hooked on the quality as well as the taste.

Kim Severson’s take on the issue of cage-free eggs in last week’s New York Times certainly has its place in today’s trend, which has animal activists urging major fast-food corporations and other food manufacturers to use only cage-free eggs to accommodate the growing concern for chicken welfare.

Severson presents a complicated situation in which “cage-free” is a nebulous, somewhat unregulated term. Also unclear is whether retrofitting battery cages and making free roaming options available actually enhances the quality of the egg.

And other questions remain: How can free range/cage-free eggs be farmed and then marketed in ways that will earn the respect, trust and loyalty of mass market consumers while not diminishing egg producers’ profits? And is the demand as big as we’re led to believe? And perhaps most importantly, does cage-free mean the chicken is living a good life?

We haven’t yet heard the end of this story.

To read Kim Severson’s article, click here.

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