May 27th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Grocery giant Safeway has announced it will increase sales of cage-free eggs—from 6% to 12%—over the next 2 years.
The decision follows a study published last month in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, which reveals that California’s Proposition 2—legislation passed in 2008 that outlaws cages for hen-laying eggs by January 2015—had “a significant effect on consumer preferences for eggs, increasing demand for cage-free and organic eggs by 180% and 20%, respectively.”
The study shows that “the very act of putting an issue like Prop 2 on the ballot affects consumers’ preferences—likely because consumers are largely unaware of, and have incorrect beliefs about, modern agricultural practices,” concludes author Jayson L. Lusk, PhD, a professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University.
Dr. Lusk found that, despite higher prices, demand for cage-free and organic eggs increased 180% and 20%, respectively, in response to news stories about Prop. 2, even as overall egg demand remained the same.
“California egg producers have an opportunity to thrive by meeting this demand and abandoning cruel cages,” says Jennifer Fearing, who managed the YES! on Prop 2 campaign for the Humane Society of the United States.
Safeway’s 1,712 North American stores include the Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Carrs and Randalls grocery chains.
Read More:Safeway Responds to Demand for Cage-Free, Organic Eggs
May 23rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
At Thursday’s meeting of McDonald’s shareholders, Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ factory farming campaign, urged the fast food chain to decrease its use of eggs from caged hens.
Most competitors, including Burger King, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr. and Sonic, have gone cage-free, but egg products sold by U.S. McDonald’s restaurants come from hens confined to battery cages—enclosures so small that birds cannot spread their wings or move freely.
In contrast, cage-free hens have 200% to 300% more space per bird, the Humane Society notes.
McDonald’s stores in the UK have already gone the cage-free route, and franchises throughout the European Union will follow suit this year.
To jumpstart a transition in the United States, the Humane Society specifically proposed that the chain, with 13,000+ American locations, commit to procuring 5% of its eggs from cage-free suppliers by next January. This meant Ronald McDonald could continue to buy 95% of his eggs from regular suppliers.
But the board urged shareholders to vote against the resolution, arguing it “would not enhance our existing policies and practices regarding the welfare of egg-laying hens and is not in the best interests of shareholders.” (Translation: McD’s makes less money, as a cage-free egg costs about 14 cents more, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)
The board added: “As we have examined this issue over the years, we have determined that there is no agreement in the global scientific community about how to balance the advantages and disadvantages of laying-hen housing systems.”
Not so fast.
Numerous studies indicate cage-free hens contribute to a safer food supply, and reputable independent research organizations like the Pew Commission have long urged agribusiness to phase out inhumane production practices.
“McDonald’s could reduce the suffering of the hens in its supply chain by starting to phase in cage-free eggs in the U.S.,” Shapiro says. “Consumer trends, legislative activities, McDonald’s competitors and even many McDonald’s operations outside the U.S. all favor cage-free egg production.”
Read More:McDonald’s Board Rejects Cage-Free Eggs
October 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Sunday marked the beginning of Animal Action Week, an International Fund for Animal Welfare campaign to teach both children and adults about biodiversity, habitat and ecosystems.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, an IFAW honorary board member, is promoting the campaign, which provides schools with a free education pack and Under One Sky: Why Animals Matter, a 15-minute film he narrates. Click here for access to educational downloads. You’ll also find a wide selection of downloadable Animal Fact Sheets—great tools to share with your kids.
Students may enter an art contest, with the winning design to appear on next year’s campaign poster. Families are also encouraged to sign a global pledge to make lifestyle choices that better protect the environment we share with animals.
“Animals and their vital habitat face more threats than ever before,” DiCaprio says. “Animals, like people, need a home that provides food, water, shelter and space. It’s our responsibility to protect animals and our planet’s vital ecosystems if we want to leave a better world for future generations.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Animal Ethics Reader
Read More:Teach Your Children to Share the Planet
October 7th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Here’s a special message for the United Egg Producers: Get over yourselves.
The group is threatening consumers with a 25% hike in egg prices if cages are banned, while blaming animal-rights activists for snatching school breakfasts from the mouths of needy children.
The egg producers’ ultimate threat: importing eggs from overseas.
“I don’t think American consumers really want to play Russian Roulette with every carton of eggs they buy, which is essentially what would happen if we allow special interest groups to force a ban on the most modern, sanitary egg housing systems in the world,” said UEP President Gene Gregory in a hyperbolic press release. “Those systems are used to produce 95% of the eggs that American consumers buy every day.”
And therein lies the problem. California has already banned battery cages—a move that prompted Gregory to tell a U.K. audience that voters were “uninformed.”
I, for one, am willing to pay more for eggs that don’t require hens to be abused. As a child, I would accompany my mom to the local dairy farm in suburban New York, where we would buy our milk and eggs. Watching the chickens and cows roam free was the highlight of the trip. Somehow, the farm managed to get it right.
Am I willing to boycott egg producers who cage their hens? In a New York minute.
Want to get involved in the cause? Farm Sanctuary is pressing for national legislation to prevent animal cruelty.
Read More:Dear Egg Producers: Get Over Yourselves
September 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Compassion Over Killing (COK), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit animal advocacy group, has exposed cruelty at an egg factory farm owned by Michael Foods, one of the nation’s largest egg producers and a major supplier to Dunkin’ Donuts. (Click here to view the video.)
While employed at the facility in August, an investigator with a hidden camera shot footage of farm conditions for more than 1 million birds in battery cages, including:
- Hens immobilized in the wires of their cages, unable to access food or water
- Decomposing and “mummified” corpses left in cages alongside live birds
- Severe feather loss
- Untreated injuries
- An employee decapitating a hen
“No responsible company should support this animal cruelty,” says Erica Meier, COK’s executive director. “Dunkin’ Donuts can—and should—make the right decision by removing eggs from its doughnuts and offering more humane vegan menu items.”
Earlier this year, COK asked the donut chain about how the hens in its supply chain were treated and whether the company could offer egg-free donuts.
Dunkin’ took no action, so COK launched DunkinCruelty.com. You can protest the ongoing hen mistreatment by completing an email form.
Photo courtesy of DunkinCruelty.com
Read More:Caught on Tape: Hen Horrors
June 12th, 2009 - Laura Klein
“Food Inc. does for the supermarket what Jaws did to the beach,” according to Variety.
Quite an analogy!
Food, Inc. an eye-opening, mouth-closing documentary from director Robert Kennar, opens June 12 in select theatres in New York, LA and San Francisco. It expands to more cities nationwide on June 19.
What’s all the fuss about?
The documentary centers around the harsh reality of where our food comes from. The film argues that the branding behind our food products – that of friendly farms and happy, hardy farm workers – is actually one huge myth. Instead, the film points out, our food is churned out, assembly line style, from a small group of multi-national corporations.
This type of ‘factory food’ is abusive to both animals and humans. In order to shield us from the ugly truths behind factory food, the industry has deliberately dropped an ‘invisible veil’ between consumers and where their food comes from…because quite simply, if more people knew, they wouldn’t want to eat it.
Not very appetizing.
Meanwhile, the huge food corporation and maker of genetically-modified food (GMO), Monsanto, isn’t taking Food, Inc. lying down. They have posted an entire Food Inc. rebuttal section on their site. Special thanks to La Vida Locavore for discounting much of what the corporate food monster has posted there.
I’ve long been an advocate for fresh, seasonal, local and organic food – and the myriad health benefits therein. Organic food is more nutrient rich, and better for the planet. I’m thrilled that Food, Inc. will get people talking about the source of our food, which is both a huge health issue and one with deep planetary impact.
Do you plan on seeing the film? Share your thoughts here, either after or before you see it and let us know what you think!
Read More:Mark Your Calendar for Food Inc.