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  • jared-m-johnson

Eggsactly how to choose healthier options for yourself and the planet

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Empower yourself. Fight to understand where the things you buy come from. And then vote with your dollars! Especially with food.

(Image: pasture-raised layer hens, Virginia, Jared Johnson ©2023)

It’s not always easy to make good food choices, though here’s some numbers to help you check your assumptions. In the United States in 2022, over 70% of eggs came from caged chickens that lived their lives crowded into a space smaller than a letter-sized sheet of paper. Just 2% of eggs came from pasture-raised chickens. “Cage-free” and "free range" eggs don’t necessarily equate to chickens being humanely raised (over-crowding can occur in a building just as well as a cage), though cage-free is arguably a move in the right direction.

It’s not just the taste and nutritional profile that differs between the eggs, it’s the livelihood of the animals themselves. Yes, there’s a cost premium on pasture-raised eggs because the costs are more fully accounted for. However, for factory-farmed eggs, the full costs are only made obvious when catastrophe strikes. The food industry has externalized the costs of factory-farmed eggs to the animals and the planet, to you and to me.

(Image: Crowded hens used for egg production stare out through the vertical bars of a dirty and obsolete style of battery cage. Quebec, Canada, Existence / We Animals Media ©2020)

The recent avian flu outbreak is a textbook example. According to the USDA, “U.S. egg inventories were 29 percent lower in the final week of December 2022 than at the beginning of the year. By the end of December, more than 43 million egg-laying hens were lost to the disease itself or to depopulation since the outbreak began in February 2022.” This is the reason that egg prices soared to over $5/dozen. “Depopulation” may be unfortunate for the egg industry and consumer, though it's not so great for the chickens themselves.

What can consumers do? Keep fighting for knowledge! While buying eggs outright affords the consumer the opportunity to read packaging and labels, the source of eggs is less clear when buying a product that has “egg” as an ingredient. That’s where the work of organizations such as The Humane League, The Humane Society and Mercy For Animals is invaluable. They hold corporations to account, from suppliers to retailers to grocers.

Follow and invest in these organizations who demand better for you, your family and the animals.

(Image: JUST Egg, garlic and ginger, Virginia, Jared Johnson ©2023)

For those exploring "next-level" opportunities to protect animals and public health, check out JUST Egg, a credible egg replacement with lots of protein and zero cholesterol.

Power to the consumer can create compassion for the world!

- Jared

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