The choices we make
I don't usually talk about this kind of topic here, but this is something very close to my heart. The picture above is that of a battery chicken. It's a screenshot taken from a series running on the BBC called Jimmy's Farm. It's about Jimmy Doherty, an ex-City worker who now running an organic farm in Essex. One of the things Jimmy does is to buy battery chicken rejects - chickens that have been bearing eggs in egg factories, aka batteries, and have started to slow down. Most of the eggs the so-called advanced world consumes comes from such batteries.
Battery chickens are kept in tiny cages in huge assembly lines, and are artifically induced with lighting and other methods to lay as many eggs as they can. It's all perfectly legal in most countries, and it's how eggs can be produced cheaply. When the chickens become less productive, they are usually "disposed" of, unless they are rescued.
I am not the most political person in the world - the exact opposite, in fact. I may be too much of a cynic to put much belief into standard political systems. I'm not even that much of an animal lover. I have toyed with being a vegetarian, but I love meat and poultry and fish and dairy products too much to give it all up.
I do, however, believe in the power of consumers to influence the way in which the companies who produce the goods and services we consume behave. There is a lady in our neighborhood who rescues spent egg farm chickens (although intensive battery production is illegal in Switzerland) and nurtures them in her small back garden. They contentedly produce a the few eggs she needs for her family, until they live out their natural lives. I can't make that kind of commitment myself, because I'm away from home too long due to my work. The only thing I can do is to buy only free-range eggs, from a small local farm where I can almost touch the chickens.
These "happy" eggs are expensive, especially so in Switzerland. They cost 60 Rappen (.60 CHF), or about $0.50 US each. A dozen costs about US $6. That's a lot more expensive than normal supermarket eggs. They are worth every penny (or Rappen) though, not only because they taste so good, but because of where they come from and how they are produced.
I know I am pretty privileged in that we make a comfortable living. I don't have a large family to feed either. Organically produced meats and eggs and vegetables do tend to cost a bit more, though you do save on transportation costs if you buy locally. But if I spend more on my raw food, I try to make up for it by buying less expensive convenience food, and eating out at restaurants a little less. One cup of espresso makes up the difference between my "happy" eggs and ordinary ones. It's getting easier all over the place with the great boon in local green markets to buy small-production, organically produced food. And while I'm voting with my money not to support inhumane ways of producing foodstuffs, I'm getting a great flavor benefit out of it too.
Link: The Essex Pig Company, aka Jimmy's Farm. I plan to visit there the next time I'm in England.