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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year of Plenty

Humane Society Video Shows the Hidden Costs of Cheap Eggs

I'm usually not too compelled by undercover videos at factory farms, but the one embedded below from the Human Society really got to me. It shows the mistreatment of chickens at Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Enterprises. (Notice how in the case of Rembrandt, farm is no longer descriptive of what's going on at an egg factory.)

The biggest complaint I get about the Farmers' Market is the price of a dozen eggs, which is usually twice the cost of the cheapest eggs at the grocery store. My answer is that when you treat animals the way farms in the video do, you can make really cheap eggs, but at what cost.

I know chickens are stupid. I have five of them. But I also know that they love to sun themselves and take dust baths and perch on a roost and scratch in the dirt. In my mind you can't argue that the birds at the factory don't know any different, or that somehow they don't mind. My theory is that one of the reasons we have taken farm animals like chickens away from our households and made it illegal to have them in many cases is to make it easier to treat animals like cogs in a machine. If the images in the video were of cats or dogs or even gerbils, it would be front and center on the evening news, and be a national scandal.

Here's an excerpt from a previous post on Chicken Dignity;

Rich Mouw, one of my mentors, helped me understand this dignity when he described the comments of a man at a gathering of Mennonite and Dutch Reformed farmers;

Colonel Sanders wants us to think of chickens only in terms of dollars and cents," he announced. "They are nothing but little pieces of meat to be bought and sold for food. And so we're supposed to crowd them together in small spaces and get them fat enough to be killed."

"But that's wrong! The Bible says that God created every animal 'after its own kind.' Chickens aren't people, but neither are they nothing but hunks of meat. Chickens are chickens, and they deserve to be treated like chickens! This means that we have to give each chicken the space to strut its stuff in front of other chickens.

I like the idea of a "strut your stuff" test for human and chicken dignity. If a person doesn't have a chance to strut their human stuff in making, growing, and producing a product, then something is wrong. Of course chicken dignity is a different kind of dignity, but it deserves strutting nonetheless.

So here's the video. It really is graphic and disturbing but I challenge you to watch it. You'll never look at cheap eggs the same way again. And if you want to do something about it get your eggs at the Farmers' Markets or get your own laying hens. Or you can ask for cage free eggs at the grocery story.



Year of Plenty

The Year of Plenty blog was created by Craig Goodwin in the winter of 2008 to chronicle the experiences of his family as they sought to consume everything local, used, homegrown or homemade. That journey was a wonderful introduction to people and movements in the Spokane area who are seeking the welfare of the community through local foods, farmers markets, community gardens, sustainable transportation, and more fulfilling and just patterns of consumption. In 2009 and beyond the blog will continue to report on these relationships and practices, all through the eyes of a family with young children. Craig manages the Millwood Farmers' Market, is a Master Food Preserver and Pastor at Millwood Presbyterian Church. Craig can be reached at