Eggs are part of our daily food intake: from the sunny-side-up fried eggs we have for breakfast, a vital ingredient for our soups, sauces and other viands, to part of the batter for our favorite cakes and pastries.
Have you ever wondered how the eggs you eat are produced?
If you’re picturing a farm girl serenely picking eggs inside a barn in an idyllic farm setting during the wee hours of the morning, you’re way off the mark.
Eighty-five percent of the eggs produced in the Philippines come from hens living inside battery cages. In these contraptions, they don’t have enough space to stretch their wings, move around and exhibit other natural behaviors such as perching, nesting, dust bathing and foraging.
Preventing the expression these behaviors leads to the hens’ frustration, distress and even physical problems.
(Some of us have complained about the stress and frustration being confined in our homes while still expected to work and function as usual during lockdown. Imagine how much worse the situation is for these hens!)
Having evolved as the species at the top of the food chain, we ought to take better care of our food source such as egg-laying hens for economy, sustainability, as well as our own humanity.
One way to do just that is to support egg producers with cage-free systems. These environments include aviary and free-range systems that allow hens to exhibit their natural behaviors as well as provide opportunities for improved welfare of the hens such as perching space, litter space for dustbathing and foraging, nest boxes and environmental enrichments, among others.
Here are four reasons why we should go cage-free:
Food safety. Did you know that salmonella – the type bacteria that causes food-related illnesses such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever and stomach pain – are five times more likely to be found in cage systems than in cage-free ones? This is attributed to factors such as the hens’ acquisition of healthy gut flora, stress levels and susceptibility to disease when comparing the systems.
Egg quality and health. According to numerous studies, cage-free eggs have a healthier overall nutritional profile. They have less saturated fat and cholesterol, higher levels of protein, Vitamins A and E, alpha tocopherol and alpha linolenic acid, carotenoid and beta carotene, as well as a healthier ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.
Animal welfare. Across the world, more and more consumers are supporting a shift towards cage-free systems as it has been proven to to give the hens a better quality of life during their egg-laying cycle and is part of an ethical and sustainable food production practice.
Market and production. Cage-free systems, especially for backyard farmers, benefit from reduced production costs as well as access to better markets as consumer education and preference for eggs produced in cage-free environments are on the rise.
So how can we help in bringing about this welcome change in egg production?
Buy cage-free eggs instead of regular eggs. As demand for these eggs rise, more egg producers will shift to cage-free systems.
Dine at (or order from) restaurants that use cage-free eggs. Restaurants are among the top institutional purchasers of ingredients and their patronage can go a long way towards supporting cage-free farmers.
Tell your family and friends to choose cage-free eggs. Encourage your little ones to practice sustainable consumption of resources and help spread the word on the Cage-Free, Cruel-Free Campaign.
For more deets on this initiative: