The news of the massive salmonella outbreak (“380 million eggs recalled in salmonella outbreak”) has millions of Americans flocking to their fridges to see if they’ve got contaminated eggs. The bigger questions, however, are these: Why do these outbreaks happen so regularly, and how can we protect ourselves against future ones?
The primary culprit behind many of the salmonella outbreaks is the factory farming so prevalent in our country. With their eyes on the bottom line, factory farms often prioritize quantity before quality. Cramping chickens so close together they’re unable to move, they raise the risk of disease drastically. Factory farms pump chickens with drugs and antibiotics which enter the soil through animal droppings (not to think of our bodies when we eat eggs and meat!), and they pump chickens so full of growth hormones that their legs and organs cannot keep pace with their size. When one chicken gets sick, it becomes all to easy for disease to spread to others. The more industrial farms betray the earth and animals through these methods, the greater risk of disease they present to us. Add this to the proof that all life is interconnected.
Buying responsibly raised food is key. When proper methods are used that respect animals and the earth, the risk of salmonella outbreak is much lower. For cage-raised hens, almost 25 percent test positive for salmonella; for free-range and organic, that number is about five percent. (More info here.) And an added perk? Eggs from pastured hens contain greater nutrients as well.
The downside is the price. For under two dollars, you can buy eggs at the grocery store; the organic and free-range eggs are closer to four dollars per dozen. It simply costs more for farms to use eco-friendly and humane methods. The advantages to free-range eggs, however, are many: greater nutrition, kinder treatment of animals, less pollution. Another perk? You won’t find yourself running to your fridge to check your eggs after watching the evening news. Many people would pay two dollars for that peace of mind right now.
- Windy Hill Farm: Find them at the Atherton and Salisbury-Rowan farmers markets. Windy Hill also welcomes purchases at their farm, allowing you to see first hand how your food is raised!
- Grateful Growers Farm:Yorkmont, Matthews, and Davidson markets
- Cold Water Creek Farms: Atherton and Davidson markets
- Laughing Owl Farm: Yorkmont and Matthews Community Farmers Market
- Baucom’s Best: Matthews Community Farmers Market
- New Town Farms: Matthews Community Farmers Market
- Big Oak Natural Farm: Matthews Community Farmers Market
- Hinson Farms: Matthews Community Farmers Market
- Carlea Farm: Matthews Community Farmers Market
- Tega Hills: Matthews Community Farmers Market
- Teresa Yoder: Matthews Community Farmers Market
This is only a partial list. Please let me know of any other local producers of pastured eggs! Let’s support those local producers who put in extra work to do right by the earth, the animals, and us.