The egg industry, like the meat and dairy industries, is doomed. People are beginning to wake up.
Perhaps you miss this more basic truth:: eating eggs is bad for human health, the environment, and, of course, the chickens.
I get my eggs from various local people with laying hens, or local free-range chicken operation no more than a couple counties away. How is that "harmful to the environment"? I bet in pursuit of your pure and morally (self) righteous vegan diet, you are frequently buying veggies shipped, often by plane for crying out loud, from Chile, the disgusting state of Israel, and even Europe. That is far worse for the environment - and for certain down-trodden colonized people too.
And eggs are a good tasty source or protein and not the least harmful when eaten in reasonable amounts. and even if they were "harmful" it is none of your business what I eat. OK?
One way to minimize the destructive impacts of our need for food is to produce it ourselves. My wife and I put a lot of effort into producing food from our small residential property in the city of Chicago. We grow year round with a hoop house and other season extension aids, We converted our attic into growing space with skylights and lots of insulation. But our best move toward our goal of food self sufficiency was incorporating chickens into our urban food adventure. They have greatly reduced our struggles with pests and maintaining sufficient soil fertility while intensively growing year round with insufficient space to practice recommended crop rotations. We try to avoid turning to purchased inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Now when we harvest a garden bed, we let our chickens manage it prior to replanting. They clear harvest unworthy produce, weeds and pest infestations and produce nitrogen rich waste. They finish our compost and til it into the soil.
And they produce wonderful rich, tasty and nutritious eggs that fabulously complement the foods that we grow. It is difficult to produce significant quantities of fresh food during our months of short day length, gray skies and cold weather. A few fresh eggs each day are a wonderful addition to our preserves, cellared root vegetables and the small amounts of produce we can harvest fresh each day through winter. Chickens aren't very fussy and will gladly subsist on humanity's waste, from spent brew grain to the vast majority of things discarded in our grocer's dumpsters.
Chickens have interesting personalities, can be quite engaging and are less prone to spreading misinformation than most well meaning people.
I just looked out my window (in Ecuador) and counted 13 laying hens running around making all kinds of noise that are owned by a peasant farmer about 50 meters up the mountain. These are just a few of the chickens she owns.
She walks the area every day selling the large eggs for $.25 each and they are the best eggs I've ever eaten. The yokes are almost orange.
So ... in addition to eating a healthy egg that was laid locally from free-range chickens; I help support a small peasant farmer and her family that are maintaining food security in my small country.
To the food police: Explain to me how this is a bad thing.
I have my own hens, so don't have to fool with buying eggs. ( yes, they wander around until it's time to go in and roost) The "organic" label has become so convoluted and politicized it is impossible for people to really make an informed choice. The cost is also prohibitive for poor families as things are now.
I live in an egg producing county. One thing that is disturbing about the large corporate producers around here is watching them kill thousands of chicks a week just because they are male, and cannot lay eggs.
Yes, consuming on occasion eggs from free-range hens (questions of the source of these hens aside) is relatively harmless; and importing foods from around the world positively harmful. But what we eat, when it involves destroying the environment (including ourselves -- think of the costs associated with ill-health directly attributable to the the meat, egg, and dairy industries) and harming unnecessarily other sentient beings, is everyone's business.
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If you are confused about free range, organic eggs ect. One way you can tell if the eggs you are eating are healthy and nutritious is if the yolks are orange, ( shows lots of beta-carotene ) the shells are hard to crack ( shows lots of calcium ) and the yokes do not break easily.
Assuming that humans do continue as omnivores, we have some decisions to make about where we get eggs and meat and dairy foods.
- Cruelty aside for now, the ecological and health concerns in factory farming are fairly clear
- Anonymous producers are (usually) not trustworthy (apologies to any exceptions)
- Small fowl and other animals can be cheap, productive, and easy where they are integrated into a garden (no, I do not mean to let the chickens into the vegetable bed!)
Though particularly circumstances may make one or another thing impractical, raising several sorts of animals for food at the household or in the neighborhood must usually be the best way for humans to be omnivores. Chickens are popular, but quail or ducks or rabbits may fit, and there are a lot of other possibilities.