Eggs for breakfast? Were they "cage free," "free range," "naturally laid?" According to an article in today's NY Times, 97% of the eggs produced in the USA are from hens in battery cages. Each cage has 7 hens, and the minimum cage floor space for each hen is about the size of my 13-inch MacBook screen. Cage free means the hens aren't in cages, but in a big warehouse where the hens are packed in, each with about 120 square inches of floor space, minimum. Ah, but you can get free range, can't you? Yep. This means the birds in the big warehouse have access to the outdoors through a small door, usually too small for the whole flock, and typically open for limited time each day. Scrambled or sunny side up?
How about some sugar in your coffee? About 30% of sugar produced world-wide is from sugar beets. A recent ruling by a federal judge has put planting of genetically engineered sugar beets on hold - these already grow on about 1 million acres in 10 states in the USA. The biotechnology beets are a product of Monsanto, and they were developed to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, also produced by Monsanto. Farmers can kill weeds in their beet fields without killing the beets. But the FDA didn't do an environmental impact statement (EIS) before approving the biotech beets, and organic farmers and some organizations worry about these altered beets passing their genes to non-biotech plants. Read about it here.
Did you eat something that could kill you because of your allergies? Ah, now we get to food labeling, and what the labels don't tell you. I was shopping at New Seasons yesterday, and watched a young woman intently studying her iPhone in front of the toothpaste shelves. Turns out she has serious allergies, and was trying to find the hidden ingredients in the many toothpaste choices, including the "natural" ones. It's a difficult task, as described in this article.
Trying to eat healthy foods presents many challenges in modern times. I understand that large-scale production methods are needed to feed the number of people in any city. But do we have to sacrifice our health and morals in order to feed ourselves? Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to go out and buy a few hens for my backyard (been there, done that), but I do have some control over what I buy, and I try to be an informed consumer. Kids need to learn about healthy food in school, and also about eating locally-grown and healthy foods. So I was happy to also see in this morning's paper a column about moves in this direction resulting from U.S. Senate passage of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.
Enjoy your lunch today. Really!