Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don't ask Questions

I've been following along with interest all matters regarding the current egg recall and biting my tongue fervently, trying hard not to post a reaction to some of the things I am reading without thinking things through. In any case, I think my struggle with restraint is about over. :)

It's my belief that you get what you pay for in this world, at least most of the time. As much as we've all been indoctrinated that all food is clean, safe and wholesome in North America, it's also my belief that this truism applies to our current food system and the 'cheap' food it produces. Or maybe the truism is that one ought not ask too many questions about how one's dozen (really cheap) eggs was produced, because if you do you probably aren't going to like the answer.

It would appear from what I read that a summary of the external costs of production in this egg recall would include egregrious and repeated labour violations, huge food safety violations, huge and repeated manure pollution violations, repeated animal welfare and cruelty violations, and the list goes on. If one really wants to have one's eyes opened, and if one has some time, perhaps you ought to do as I did and type any of the aforementioned violations into google and scan what comes up for any commodity of your choice.

Let's address some internal costs that we all "eat". It's hard to know exactly how many tax dollars our federal and state governments pump into agriculture every year because a lot of the subsidies are hidden. However, if there are 300 million Americans, it's easy math to figure that every billion dollars pumped into various and sundry agricultural subsidies cost each and every one of us $ 3.00. That doesn't sound too bad until one realizes that if the nation supports agriculture to the tune of $ 100 billion dollars in hidden and open subsidies of various sorts ( a veritable drop in the bucket in today's budget, no matter whether or not said budget is Democratic or Republican in nature), the average family of four spent $ 1200 in taxes to help the cause. Unfotunately, this egg recall shows all too well what we got for our money.

Maybe we've come to a place where consumers are beginning to realize that the grocery store cost of eggs at $ 0.69 per dozen isn't real, and that maybe paying someone local $ 2.00 or even more per dozen eggs is worth it, if ALL the various costs have been accounted for in the price. I've been tempted for a long while to hang a sign down at my gate that says "Proud Family Farmer...Zero Percent Subsidized", but until recently I didn't think anybody would get it. Maybe it's time to think about getting out the paint brush again.....

8 comments:

Kate said...

I loved how the news articles said that salmonella might have been carried into the egg facilities/factories by workers! How about that the salmonella might have been there because the chickens are packed in like sardines under unsanitary and stressful conditions? It would be nice if major reporting organizations would do some independent research for a change instead of just regurgitating what they are told by the egg agribusiness producers.

SmartAlex said...

Paint that sign!

I've been eating home raised eggs for most of my life, and am planning another flock for next year. Heck, I'm about ready to buy a family cow (I can hand milk like nobody's business!)

I watched the Dirty Jobs episode where they went to the egg farm, and all I could do was shake my head as they were touting the efficiencies of that operation. Those poor chickens have no idea they're chickens. And then there is the whole white turkey fiasco we all turn a blind eye to.

Jason said...

Kate;

Given how many illegals this particular firm has hired, it would seem doubly dumb for them to blame the workers for this mess, but I guess it's easier to do that than it is to actually address the real issues behind it. How much do you want to bet the company winds up using this scare to push for food irradiation ? Goodness I am feeling cynical tonight !

Brita;

Milk that cow, by God! LOL ! Wonder how Tim'll feel about your dairy maid hands when they are thicker and tougher than his though ? :)

SmartAlex said...

I'll also be able to beat him arm wrestling! In junior high school they called me Popeye because my forearms were so big from milking the pets I kept when the dairy herd was sold! Luckily they weren't calling me Pigpen because my hair smelled like a Holstein's flank.

You know what made me mad this morning? Good Morning America spoke of "keeping America's egg supply safe", as if we all ought to be buying from the same place. I know that's not what they meant, but that's pretty much the way it is. This is one thing we should not be in all together. Support your local hen house!

Jason said...

Junior high was the only time in my life that I became mildly fashion conscious. I still wore a lot of plaid shirts and jeans but I laid down my work boots and put on sneakers....wore 'em winter and summer for two years. In grade 9 I came to my senses and put my boots back on, high school be damned. Haven't ever really had them off since !

Funder said...

Local micro-operation eggs here are $3-4 a dozen - the kind you buy off Craigslist from somebody with a flock of backyard chickens. Whole Foods eggs are usually about 2.69 a dozen. (If you're really lucky, the lady where you board your horse will give you a dozen every other week or so!) I don't think there's anything in the world better than homemade mayo, and I just don't worry about inherent salmonella in eggs from happy chickens.

Anyway, I'm just curious what yall's prices are. I think in Memphis eggs were about $2 or $2.50 a dozen, very similar to middle TN. They were about $3 in Ohio.

Can't wait to get my chicken coop repaired and buy some layers.

Jason said...

Funder;

We don't actually sell eggs although we do keep a small flock of yard hens for our own eggs (when we can figure out who laid them and when....not always obvious in our case). We have thought about getting into the market and we're still thinking, truthfully.

Local prices vary between $ 2.00 and $ 4.00 per dozen depending on how rural an area one is talking about.

Anonymous said...

my ten year old son sell his eggs for 2.50 a dozen canadian. he looks after 25 hens and that is his weekly allowance. He gets pretty pissed when they moult. I buy feed and replace the hens as needed. It is a nice way to sow some work for his allowance.

Brew