The following is an opinion editorial peice I wrote for our sustainable, local eaters webpage and magazine:www.tasteoftimmins.com
I hope you find it interresting.
The Egg Farmers of Ontario to ask us “who made your eggs today?” on their website www.eggfarmersofontario.ca.
Could my instinctual answer of, ‘….um, chickens’, be wrong?
Apparently, it was.
The Ontario Chicken Farmers' website features videos, peppered with the wholesome themes of country living and home-made kitchen goodness, that would have me believe it was Farmer Marcel, Diane, and Hubert who made my eggs today. They, along with their counterparts, explain the benefit of the family farm - some multi-generational, some modern and innovative - on raising chickens to produce eggs for consumption by Ontarians.
Each vignette extols the virtues of egg freshness and nutritional value along with a sense of pride in providing food for their neighbours and community. Green vistas and pastures' unfold before our eyes. We are dazzled by the efficiency of conveyor belts and egg sorters; stacks of gleaming white orbs in their cardboard cocoons beckon.
Each video reinforces the message: Ontario egg producers are not faceless corporations; they are neighbours that have the same good family values of hard work and stewardship that we all have. I like these videos. I like these people. They me feel good. They must make great eggs....
"Hey", I say, scratching my head, "Where are the chickens?"
Not once do we see a chicken in the videos. There are no feathered friends pecking and scratching in the pastures. We never see a flurry of feathers bathing in dust. Most disturbingly, we do not see the chickens in their cozy laying boxes nesting on a clutch of eggs.
Where ARE the CHICKENS?
Likely, the egg producers are 'efficiently converting fuel into food' in a battery of wire mesh cages, crammed together under artificial lighting for the entirety of their lives. Because these hens don't spend energy on movement, egg production is maximized. Never mind that they need to be fed antibiotics and have their beaks seared off to prevent infection from fighting and hen pecking. These chickens have little *egg~sposure* to natural behaviors such as nesting and wing-flapping; pecking for insects and running around the yard is not an option.
I don't know if the Egg Farmer's featured on the website farm with sustainable, humane practices because we never see the chickens, or even inside the barns.
"Who made my eggs today?" Simple: a wonderful hen named Crème Brule, whose antics make us laugh each day as we watch her pecking, bathing, flapping, and running our yard with 8 of her feathered friends.