Egg Crisis

“We like to think of our food as being produced on small, healthy, local farms. The food industry knows this, and encourages our misperception by marketing eggs under brands such as “Farm Fresh” and “Sunshine.” But in reality there’s nothing fresh or sunny about our domestic egg production.

Ninety-five percent of eggs are produced on a handful of massive factory farms. These farms aren’t the scenic landscapes you see printed on labels or shown in commercials. They are huge industrial wastelands.

Wright County Egg, one of the two factory farms responsible for the current salmonella scandal, has 7.5 million egg-laying chickens crammed together so closely in battery cages that the birds can’t even stretch their wings. The chickens often live in their own bacteria-breeding excrement, and never see the light of day.

In response to the unsanitary conditions of factory egg farms, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued new egg guidelines that would beef up safety standards. This is a step in the right direction, but the problems we have with egg production are just a microcosm of the broader problems of our industrial food system.

In the short term, what we really need is comprehensive food security bill that mandates more frequent inspections of factory farms and gives the FDA the tools to prevent deadly and costly food outbreaks before they ever happen.

The U.S. house passed such a food safety bill more than a year ago, but it has since stalled in the Senate. The egg recall has given this bill renewed attention, and we need to take advantage of this growing pressure for reform. Join us in calling on the Senate to pass a food safety bill when it returns after Labor Day.

In the long term, we hope this outbreak and recall helps hatch a broader movement for a safe and healthy alternative to our industrial food system. To learn more about the movement for local, healthy, sustainable food, check out the Sustainable Food cause on Change.org.