You buy organic eggs for any number of reasons, probably related to not wanting to support factory farms that mistreat chickens, pollute the environment and produce eggs that are nutritionally inferior.
Unfortunately, not all organic eggs are created equal. You may be surprised to learn that most of the retail grocery chain store-brand “organic” eggs actually come from huge factory farm-type operations that routinely violate USDA National Organic Program (NOP) rules.
We’re talking about brands like Whole Foods 365 Organic; Trader Joe’s; Aldi’s Simply Nature; Sprouts Market; Wegmans; Target’s Simply Balanced—brands that stores claim as their “own” even though they don’t actually produce them
In our alert this week, we target some of the retail grocery “organic” private-label store brands that are produced for stores by one of the three worst industrial-scale “organic” producers (and violators of USDA organic standards) in the country: Cal-Maine Foods, Rose Acre Farms and Herbruck’s.
How do these companies get away with running fake “organic” egg operations?
In theory, USDA standards for organic eggs dictate that hens should have access to the outdoors. But as this 2015 report by the Cornucopia Institute explains, those standards are unclear and thus open to interpretation. The standards are also largely unenforced. According to the report (p. 39):
Not a single industrial-scale egg producer has come under investigation by the USDA for violating the standards; on the contrary, industrial-scale producers apparently felt shielded from legal action soon after the organic standards went into effect in 2002.
We would ask you to hound the Big Three fake organic egg producers—but we know they won’t care what you think, as long as stores like Kroger and Target and Safeway and others keep buying up the eggs and slapping their own labels on them.
The only way to make the organic egg industry honest is to get retailers, including the big retail grocery chains like Publix and Giant Eagle and Costco, to stop sourcing their eggs from industrial-scale producers like Cal-Maine Foods, Rose Acre Farms and Herbruck’s. And the only way to do that, is to stop buying the store brands until they switch.
The U.K., China, Russia, Taiwan, and the European Union ban or limit the use of ractopamine, a drug that promotes growth in pigs, cattle, and turkeys. Ractopamine is linked with serious health and behavioral problems in animals, and human studies are limited but evoke concerns, according to the Center for Food Safety.
The U.S. meat industry uses ractopamine to accelerate weight gain and promote feed efficiency and leanness in pigs, cattle, and turkeys. The drug mimics stress hormones.
Texas Farm Bureau and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is hosting the Food Dialogues: Austin Sept. 18. We will have two, 90-minute panels and will accept questions from the live audience and social media.
The first panel, “Animal welfare: Beyond the hype” is set for 10:30 a.m.-noon.
The ways we raise cattle in the Lone Star State are as diverse as Texas itself. Grass-fed, grain-fed, cow-calf, stocker, purebred operations—all play a unique role in providing a safe, nutritious product for niche and mainstream consumer markets. A priority shared by Texas cattlemen is providing proper care to raise livestock efficiently and healthy. How we get there—animal handling methods, antibiotics, beta-agonists, growth-promoting implants—can be controversial. Should consumers be concerned? A panel of cattle experts will discuss the variations on animal husbandry techniques and technologies used in the Texas beef business.
The second panel, “Farming methods. Consumer interpretation.” is set for 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Texas consumers have bountiful opportunities when it comes to the food they eat. But are they making wise choices? How do they distinguish between information and misinformation in the daily bombardment of food messages. Organic, conventional, local and natural–consumers read these labels, but do they understand their meaning? Their decisions shape food supplies, and in turn, farming practices. A panel of experts—representing all aspects of food production in Texas—will address health and safety concerns related to the foods we eat and the technology used to grow them.
We would love to have you, and some friends, attend.
For more information about the panelists and event logistics or to RSVP, visit http://www.fooddialogues.com/events/fd-austin.
If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them. A formal invitation will be emailed soon. If you are interested in attending, please let me know and we will have an invitation emailed to you.
Texas Farm Bureau Assistant Editor
As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take animals off pasture and put them on feed-lots is to take an elegant solution — animals replenishing the fertility that crops deplete — and neatly divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm and a pollution problem on the feed-lot. The former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel fertilizer; the latter continues to stink.
When It Comes to Agriculture, Size Does Matter –
A Rebuttal to the Dairy Business Association (DBA)
and the Factory Farm Lobby in Wisconsin
A version of this op ed was printed in the Country Today, 10/14/09
Last week the executive director of the Dairy Business Association Laurie Fischer wrote a seemingly polite yet defensive editorial to many newspapers and media outlets across the state as a response to the increasing attacks against the rise of factory farming and the environmental issues that accompany them. Although the editorial tried to say “size is not the issue” it continually referred to pollution concerns surrounding larger farms and flat-out stated large farms are better for the environment. This is because no matter how much they use neutral phrases like trying to “keep cows in Wisconsin” or say “regardless of size” they are an organization that represents factory farming and the aggressive expansion of that particular type of agriculture. Much of DBA’s funding comes from corporate donors. Its website says they include Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC, Pfizer Animal Health, Accelerated Genetics, Wick Builders, Bayland Building, insurers, financial-service firms and a host of other agribusiness interests that view big farms as big accounts that buy lots of stuff. Anyone questioning or challenging them is told to shut up, get out of the way of the natural course of “progress” and portrayed as an enemy of all of Wisconsin agriculture. To read more click here
Support family farmers! Please contact Governor Doyle and let him know that you oppose this kind factory farming!