Thursday, September 22, 2016

Buying Eggs From "Free Range" Chickens

If you are egg shopping in most stores, you will be given the option of buying free range chicken eggs. You will be asked to pay a lot more for them but they are supposed to be more humanely raised. After all, instead of being cooped up (see what I did there) all day, they are free to go outside to frolic as only chickens can. There are several of them near us, huge buildings with a fenced in pasture for the chickens. There is only one problem. See below:

It is hard to make out the chickens in the pasture. That is mostly because there aren't very many and the ones that are out are huddled in the shade of the building. I have gone past this place literally a hundred times and never seen a single chicken under the chicken cabanas in the pasture, little matching shelters that has the same color roof as the big barn. I would estimate that I have never seen more than 100 chickens outside at any time. That sounds like a lot of chickens but there are probably 20,000 chickens inside the barn. You see, they seem to like being inside. They have food in there. They have water in there. Places to roost. Fans to keep them cool. In fact given the chance, most of the tens of thousands of chickens prefer to be inside. So why do you pay more for their eggs?

Because you are being sold an image, an idea. You think you are getting much better eggs because the chickens can go outside. 'Cept they don't wanna go outside. But you pay the same for an egg from a chicken that has never gone outside as you do for one that occasionally wanders out. They are still mass raised in a mostly confinement operation, carefully bred to fire off eggs as efficiently as possible.

So if you want to spend more and get eggs from actual free ranging chickens, look for a sign out front and chickens in the yard. Don't spend more for eggs that are basically the same you can get for a buck a dozen.

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