Monday, March 16, 2009

Eggs: Presenting Problems, and Solutions

With Easter season upon on, heightening the awareness of the cruelties of egg production is vital. In 2007, consumption rose from an average of about 94 million dozen eggs weekly to 115 million dozen the week before Easter and almost 136 million during Easter week, according to the National Egg Council.

In a world where people are so disconnected to where their food comes from, providing a visual is so crucial. Artist, web developer, and animal advocate Mark Middleton created to do just that. This is his brainchild, The Virtual Battery Cage.

Among the shocking statistics we advocates are familiar with:
1) In the U.S., some 95% of egg-laying hens are intensively confined in battery cages.
2) As of December 2008, about 300 million birds are confined in battery cages, almost one for every U.S. citizen.
3) Each cage confines 5 or 6 birds on average, but sometimes up to 10 birds.

In addition to presenting the problem, he provides viable alternatives to eggs. These include applesauce, bananas, and commercial egg replacer powder (such as Ener-G Egg Replacer), and others. Too often, I read animal rights literature speaking about the horrors of factory farming, but not leaving the reader with another option. They must walk away with a sense of what they can consume instead, otherwise the point will have been lost.

Check out alternatives to eggs on and Bob's Red Mill Vegetarian Egg Replacer.

Think cage-free are better? Not necessarily, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Most cage-free hens live in very large flocks that can include thousands of hens who never go outside, they say. Here are more facts from the HSUS:

-Cage-free farms usually purchase their hens from the same hatcheries that supply battery-cage farms. These hatcheries kill the male chicks upon hatching - exceeding 200 million annually in the U.S.
-Most cage-free hens have part of their beaks burned off, a painful mutilation.
-Hens are often killed at less than two years old, less than half their normal lifespan. They are typically transported long distances to slaughter plants with no food or water.

Learn more about cage-free egg production vs. Battery-cage egg production

A reality check. This sign hangs outside of the hen house at Farm Sanctuary's Watkins Glen, NY, shelter.

The ideal. Chickens enjoying a dust bath on a sunny autumn day in Watkins Glen.

Freedom rings in this hen house

Sweet solitude.

If you haven't already, please send an e-mail to your legislators asking them to end cruel confinement of farm animals, including battery cages, using this form from Farm Sanctuary.

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