Does it matter? So what if chickens are stuffed into little cages where they can’t move, get sick, never see daylight or grass, eat weird food and are forced to produce an unnatural number of eggs…as long as we get all the eggs we need, with our ever growing human population. What’s the problem? What does this have to do with sustainability?
This is a question many people are asking. Their personal answer will influence their purchasing choices, which will then influence the farmers, which then impacts the chickens. Consumers are becoming aware of the atrocities committed to animals in the name of consumerism while at the same time becoming interested in better quality food. It’s an interesting intersection.
As we realize the connection between good food and good health, we recognize that healthy chickens lay better eggs, which leads to our own improved health. It’s all connected. Then there’s compassion, the natural empathy for suffering…especially needless suffering that is imposed for the sheer sake of expediency. Thanks to the Internet and social networking, we can see into the worlds animals occupy, including worlds that we have created for them. More and more people want to discourage abusive practices, while still getting products that may come from animal sources. Hence the pressure to improve the lives of egg laying hens.
In response to increased consumer awareness and demand, Britain has banned battery cages entirely and encourages consumers to buy from local farmers. Smaller farmers benefit from the business so that they can afford to raise free-range chickens. Farmers who maintain large barns are phasing out battery cages in favor of aviaries that provide some level of preferred habitat features like nesting, perching and scratching.
Here in America, a recent survey revealed that more than three in four Americans are concerned about farm animal welfare. The result? Leading brands and retailers are changing their policies.
McDonald’s has vowed to phase out the use of cages for their egg-laying hens. Nestlé and Starbucks have joined the movement. Burger King is in as well as most major grocery store chains. Even Walmart, one of the world’s biggest retailers has committed to treating animals more humanely, following guidelines that state, “…animals should be free from hunger, thirst, discomfort, pain, injury, disease, fear and distress, and that they’re able to “express normal behavior“ and have access to “sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.”
290 million egg laying hens could benefits from these changes!! Wow.
Where does change begin? With us. The Power of One. Every time we make a choice as a consumer, our influence travels all the way down the marketing chain…to a little egg somewhere.