Sunday, January 30, 2011

Don’t Let An Organic Egg Fool You

We all know about the egg industry’s appalling record in terms of environmental and animal welfare management. Now, let’s not kid ourselves: overcooking eggs does not address the risk of salmonella infections. Neither does buying “organic” eggs. Salmonella is but the tip of the iceberg. Our responsibility, as consumers, is to pay close attention to the origin of the eggs we buy and to educate ourselves about the producer’s operations.

First off, don’t let an organic egg fool you: “organic” refers to the quality of the feed given to the hens but says nothing about their condition of living.

Which leads us to the second essential point: a battery-cage egg is not a cage-free egg is not a free-range egg is not a pasture-raised egg. These classifications have real implications for our health and the environment. To find out why, check out editor Leah Zerbe’s cue cards.

The great news is that the consumer is not alone anymore when having to choose between egg crates with various cryptic labels and statements: after a year of research, the Cornucopia Institute published its Organic Egg Report and Scorecard in the wake of last summer’s egg recall. Close to 70 brands are listed and ranked.

Another good news for the consumer: the new egg safety rule implemented by the FDA last July “requires the egg industry to take specific preventive measures to keep eggs safe during their production, storage and transport. Egg producers will also be required to register with FDA and to maintain a prevention plan and records to show they are following the regulation.”

The rule does not apply to egg producers who manage a flock of fewer than 3,000 hens or who sell their eggs directly to consumers.

This is good news long-term, one hopes, AND it should not give us an excuse to forfeit our responsibility in the kind of egg industry we choose to support with our money. Our health is at stake, as is the health of our planet. And not just our physical health, by the way: I would assert that supporting corporations that exploit workers and animals has a subtle, yet real impact on our overall well-being.

Finally, I don’t mean to ignore the fact that the most wholesome, nutritious, delicious eggs available command a steep price premium. My personal choice is to eat eggs only occasionally as a treat, and to favor healthy, protein-rich alternatives like sprouted lentils and quinoa.

These are among hundreds of tips you can adopt to “green” your lifestyle and contribute to a healthier planet. Take your free assessment on GoingGreenToday and receive your customized plan of action tailored to your household, with tips, links and easy access to a wealth of resources.

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