Phil’s Farm Fresh Eggs
A few days ago I blogged about humans’ humanity to chickens, and ways to find out whether your eggs are from humanely raised chickens or battery-caged (or squished-non-caged) factory farm birds…
One of the egg producers readily available at our local Whole Foods, and one I have bought from time to time in the past, is Phil’s Farm Fresh. They are only a couple of hours away from us, so comparatively local. (Thing is, in the Midwest, “local” doesn’t mean “non-industrial”–we live within a few hours of probably most of the worst of the worst faux-food producers…) I tried to find them on the Cornocopia chart, but they didn’t seem to be there…so I was pleased to discover that they carry the American Humane Association Free Farmed label–and this description comes from another site:
For those who seek more humanely produced eggs, wading through product labels is tricky. “Because of depression in the industry as a whole, there are operations that are much more focused on marketing than on production and quality that are now trying to get into specialty eggs,” states Rod Wubbena, general manager of family-owned and operated Phil’s Fresh Eggs in Forreston, IL. Wubbena—son of the product’s namesake—is a second-generation farmer whose operation has raised cage-free hens since its inception in 1959. Focusing on quality and superior taste, Phil’s Fresh Eggs manufactures its own feed and has developed a “happy hour” system in which hens spend time each day in scratch alleys where they can access dust, wood shavings and calcium. “This is a way of life,” Wubbena says. “It isn’t the most financially productive investment out there. Our cost per bird housed is $20 to $26. The cost for a battery cage operation is $5 to $9 a bird.”
Phil’s Fresh Eggs is certified by the American Humane Association (AHA)’s “Free Farmed” label. “This label validates what we’ve been doing all along,” says Wubbena, whose product is available at major Midwest food retailers. Although all of Phil’s Fresh Eggs’ laying hens are “free farmed,” there is currently no requirement that participants in AHA’s certification must meet these standards across their entire production base—which some consider a serious drawback to the free-farmed labeling initiative.
Note that this is not an operation where there are a gajillion hens in a giant room with one tiny open door and a 10×10 “range” that none of them go into…they are all required to spend time outside, doing what chickens do. On the other hand, “scratch alleys” ain’t green pastured fields, idyllic pastoral life in the country, and all that…and if happy “hour” is really only an hour, well, that’s not so great either…more humane than many alternatives. But not more humane than some of the others, like not eating eggs.
No perfect solution yet, I guess. I wish our local farmstand would hook up with a local egg-producer…