So, being humane means eating free range eggs. Not "free range" like Land O Lakes (which only means that they are not kept in cages), but free range meaning:
- Their beaks and claws are not clipped. Mass egg and chicken producers clip their birds beaks and claws so that they don't peck and scratch at each other. Chickens in confinement of course peck and claw at each other because they are packed together. Luckily I don't have a beak, or else Alex, my boyfriend -- we share a 1-bedroom apartment-- would be one unhappy duck.
- They actually go outside... Not just have access to outdoors. Most companies that advertise their eggs as "cage free" or "free range" are only using those terms in the sense that the Tobacco Industry uses terms like "low-tar cigarettes." The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) explains that,
The HSUS does an excellent job of explaining what "certified organic," "cage-free," "free range," and "free roaming" mean and how they differ. Unfortunately, eggs sold in a supermarket may be labeled as free range, cage-free, blah blah blah, but
"The truth is that the majority of egg labels have little relevance to animal welfare or, if they do, they have no official standards or any mechanism to enforce them."
"... the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined."
Really, the only way to find out how the eggs you are about to eat were hatched is to ask.
So I end up asking a lot of questions, and it is a great way to get to know the farmers. They are usually excited to talk about their farms and practices. And after having spoken with many farmers, I have learned that even they cannot escape the grasp of the factory farming industry......... I'll write up today's experience at the farmers' market in part II.