Tuesday, December 12, 2006

While We're On the Subject of Birds

Harris Teeter has just started carrying its own brand of organic and/or free range eggs. Dave and I have been opting for the organic-ish chicken for a while now, and realized that eggs of antibiotic pumped chickens are just as bad as the chicken itself.

I say "organic-ish" because there are two brands of Smart Chicken that HT carries: Organic and Veg Fed. Both are hormone and antibiotic free, but the organic chickens get organic feed and the veg fed just get regular veggie food. Since the organic is twice as expensive as the veg fed and both are much more expensive than regular chicken, I opt for the veg fed chix: no bad drugs and vegetarian fed.

The eggs are more complicated.

There are veg fed and no hormones/antibiotics, veg fed and no hormones/antibiotics and free range (for 20 more cents) and completely organic and free range for 50 more cents. For me the choice is between the veg/no hormones and the veg/no hormones/free range.

Although the cheap mama in me wants to get the veg/no hormones, I can't do it. It's like there's this chicken clucking around in my head and if I chose the chickens who lay eggs in a cage, my choice would personally hurt some chickens. I have to support the free chickens!! I have to let the world know that it's better to let the chickens roam and lay their eggs than keep them in their oppressive cages. For less than 2 cents per egg, I just can't justify chicken torture. So I get the free range but not completely organic eggs.

The reason this is an issue is that the egg cartons all look alike. So I have to read the labels to make sure it's hormone free and free range. So now, every time I purchase eggs , I leave the refrigerator case chanting in my head: FREE THE CHICKENS!!! KEEP THE CHICKENS FREE!!!

Maybe our bird's nest is a thank you for the avian world for promoting the life and health of their own.

6 comments:

Suzanne said...

Just had to delurk for a moment---your post made me smile. A while ago I explained my cage-free egg purchase rationale to my sister. She is a lovely, caring person, but cannot fathom spending so much money on eggs. After my explanation, she stared at me as if I had six heads and said, "I guess I just don't CARE about the chickens that much."

Ah well. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in caring!

Anonymous said...

OK--I posted this yesterday but don't see it today so I must have done something wrong. I, too purchase the expensive eggs. These, in fact: http://www.peteandgerrys.com/
The carton says that happy chickens lay better eggs. I like happiness so figure that my $3 a carton brings a little happiness into the world. I have been buying these for so long that I didn't realize that eggs should be only about $1.

-Erica in New York

Mandy said...

Not sure if this helps your decision making any, but no chickens produced in the US contain hormones; there are federal regulations against it. As for antibiotics, a few years ago most chicken producers voluntarily phased out antibiotics in chicken feed--supposedly--but who knows... There's no regulation over the term "free range" either; just because they are not in cages doesn't mean their existence is any more tranquil than their caged kin. Organic is a term that is more rigidly regulated, and therefore more meaningful than "natural" or "free range". Frankly, unless you are buying your chicken or eggs from the source, there's no way to tell how humanely they are treated. That being said, I do try to buy organic to lessen the possibility of getting antibiotics I don't need. I feel very fortunate that our secretary's mother raises chickens as a hobby and sells me beautiful brown eggs for $2/dozen!

Mandy said...

To clarify my comment about "free range"--the birds are most likely not roaming freely on a big farm, scratching for worms and contemplating life. In most instances, 1000s of (debeaked) birds are crammed into a warehouse type space, just not in cages. I'm not convinced that it's better than the alternative; I'm also wary of terms that try to appeal to my guilty conscience. I grew up around chicken "farmers" and it's an ugly business, so-called free-range or not. Yet somehow I'm still not a vegetarian...

Mandy said...

Sorry for the 3rd comment, but I hate that I came off sounding preachy. I love it that you are so sweet that you want to do right by the chickens! You have a good heart...

lisa said...

Well, understanding that we really don't know how much of it is a marketing department appealing to our crunchy selves, I buy the cage free nest eggs. It makes me feel better. A small contribution to the world, for someone who doesn't feel able to make a large one.

Oh, and I've been meaning to tell you. I started an experiment after your post on comfort vs. economy in the TP department. I used my regular $4.99 cheap-brand (but comfy) 12-double roll, and it lasted 33 days. Now I'm using the 12-roll pack of Scott 1000-sheets per roll thin-thin-thin stuff, which I got for $7. 58 days and counting, baby! Actually, it not uncomfy. It's just thin. I find with thick stuff, and especially when I'm at other people's houses, I end up using way too much. Scott just keeps you from wadding up unnecessarily. (Scott the paper, not the husband.) I think I'm a convert.