Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How Ethical Are Your Eggs?

Is that a question you can answer with a resounding "Very!"?

If not, allow me to introduce you to Vital Farms.

I discovered this company recently after interrogating my local Whole Foods egg guy for a good 15 minutes one day.  I don't eat meat or dairy for a variety of reasons, but my compassion for the animals is chief among them.  I haven't eaten eggs, either, for the same reason.  Yet I feel that if chickens can be raised in a happy environment - with love and care - and their eggs are merely a byproduct of their natural chicken lives, then those eggs don't carry the weight of ahimsa and would be okay for me to eat.

Sadly, most of the chickens raised in this country don't get to experience ahimsa-free living.

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Factory farmers have become experts at fooling consumers on this issue.  The photo above shows a typical cage-free or free-range living situation.  Birds are crammed in with no more space than an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper in which to spend their lives.  The USDA does not regulate the meaning of these terms.  "Free-range" very often means that there is a single door or window to the outside which the chickens most likely won't be able to use.  Their beaks are sanded off and they are fed diets filled with animal byproducts, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides.  (For a few articles on the subject, go here and here.)

I wanted to find another answer and I believe I have with Vital Farms.

The hens at Vital Farms are pasture raised.  They enjoy a diet of organic grasses as well as a nutrient-dense Certified Organic feed mix that includes GMO-free corn, vitamins, and probiotics.  GMO-free corn, for Pete's sake!  According to the Vital Farms website, "No pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals are ever introduced to our chickens, their eggs, or our pasture. This ensures no harmful runoff in our streams, rivers, and oceans."  Those things are important to me.  In addition, Vital Farms chickens are never debeaked and are raised by small, independent family farms.

But don't take my word for it.  Watch their videos.  Those chickens are H-A-P-P-Y.  You can see it in their exuberance as they run across the fields.  My eyes welled up with tears when I got to the part with farmer John Cooper (about 1:45 in the first video).  He talks about the chickens running to greet him and then reveals that he likes to pick them up and hug them.  I want to buy my eggs from THAT guy. 

As I mentioned, Vital Farms eggs are available at Whole Foods Markets.  You can search for them locally here.  I encourage you to explore their website and grill your own Whole Foods employee.  Each carton of eggs comes with a little handout inside, telling you a bit more about the Vital Farms philosophy.  But if after all of this, you're still skeptical (it's okay... I was, too), then give the eggs a TASTE.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  The yolks are a rich golden color.  The whites are thicker.  And they taste so much DIFFERENT and BETTER than any commercial egg I've ever had.  That tells me all I need to know.

I am in no way affiliated with Vital Farms,
nor did I receive compensation of any kind for this post.
I just love their eggs.

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