One thing I’m always banging on about to my teenage daughters is: read the label!
You may not know, but in 1993 when I worked as a media officer for the Royal New Zealand Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, I wrote a book about the history of the RSPCA in NZ (The Compassionate Years), and I launched the ‘ban the battery cage’ campaign to free laying hens from a life of cruelty.
Did you know that a battery hen lives its life in a cage the size of an A4 piece of paper? Its feet stand on the cage of the bird below it.
A hen is born to scratch the dirt and take dust baths. She is born to feel the sun and the rain on her. She is not born to live her life in a cage with the excrement of other birds falling on top of her.
A friend once said to me, when reading The Mother magazine, that the level of passion I have could probably be applied to anything. She laughed and said ‘you’d probably be this passionate about chickens!’ My friend, bless her, had no idea. No idea at all. “Funny you should say that,” I said. Imagine the look on her face when I told her about my campaign in NZ.
As part of that campaign, I began writing articles to educate the sleeping public. Well, surprise surprise, half a dozen ‘top eggs’ from the Egg Board came to visit me and my boss and demand I stop writing such articles. Why? Because, believe it or not, I was ‘hurting’ their industry. Imagine!
My boss was terrified. I, however, knew exactly what I was doing. The ‘top eggs’ argued that we had to have battery eggs to make them affordable for all those poor single mums. “RUBBISH,” I replied. “Lentils are cheap. Beans are cheap. And they’re nutritious. Animals shouldn’t be suffering in order to feed humans.”
So, here I am, 21 years later, and still passionate about the chickens. To my horror, I have discovered that, at least in the UK, you might ‘think’ you are buying organic free range eggs because it has the Soil Association logo on it ~ but what you are buying are eggs from hens which have been VACCINATED. How this is even legal is beyond me.
This is a law suit waiting to happen. Talk about duping the public!
When I buy carrots or beans or onions or any vegetable labelled organic, I do so in the understanding that the farmer has not used chemicals or toxic products on the food which is going into MY body. I pay MORE for organic food than non-organic food, and I do so for three reasons: I am mindful of what goes into my body. I care that the farmers who are working as naturally as possibly with their crops are rewarded for their work; and I care that Mother Earth isn’t loaded with toxic chemicals. It might be an ‘in the moment’ decision, but the consequences are far reaching. I trust that my buying decisions are making a difference on those three levels.
When a person buys an animal product (whether it is eggs, dairy or meat) that is labelled organic, they do so on the understanding that animal welfare is a primary issue. They do so in the understanding that the animals are not given hormones or antibiotics. HOW THE HELL vaccinations are allowed under the ‘organic’ banner is mind boggling. Not only that, it’s a disgrace that there is no MAJOR label on the front to identify this to the consumer.
Many parents choose not to vaccinate because they know of the dangers of such a poisonous product. These same parents would WANT to know if the eggs they were eating or feeding their children came from a creature which had been ‘poisoned’.
Don’t believe a vaccine is poisonous? Would you drink it? I rest my case.
Vaccination is also an extremely ecologically unfriendly business. (see The Mother magazine, issue 35 July/August 2009 www.themothermagazine.co.uk) That this whole industry has managed to insidiously slither its way into organic farming is a biological nightmare. The Soil Association should be pulled to task on this.
Unless you have your own chickens or are getting them from a friend who you KNOW isn’t vaccinating, don’t assume your local organic free range eggs are as wholesome as you’ve been led to believe.
Free range SHOULD mean that a hen (or other animal) has freedom at all times to range outside.
Barn eggs are from hens stuck in sheds. Barn is not a ‘cute’ term.
Beware of signs which say Farm Fresh Eggs or Happy Hens. They’re highly unlikely to be happy.
Unless you see the hens ranging in fields with lots of space between them, they’re not free range.
Salmonella concerns come from hens being cramped in close quarters and in unhygienic conditions. This is NOT a concern for truly free range hens with well-cleaned nesting boxes, so using this vaccine to ‘protect’ them is just ridiculous and shows no understanding of the disease.
According to the Soil Association’s own literature:
“Organic is a term defined by law. Any food products labelled as organic must meet a strict set of standards which define what farmers and food manufacturers can and cannot do in the production of organic food. Organic product sold in the UK must by law display a certification symbol or number.
Unlike many other food assurance schemes, the combination of legally defined standards and regular third-party inspections, mean that when you buy an organic product you can be confident that the claims made on the label about how the food has been produced can be believed.
A healthy animal is better able to resist disease than a stressed one. Organic livestock farming aims to prevent disease from occurring by promoting health. This is achieved through appropriate diet, high welfare standards for housing, amount of housing space for each animal, and taking measures to reduce stress.
Organic farm animals:
• Must have access to fields (when weather and ground conditions permit) and are truly free range
• Must have plenty of space – which helps to reduce stress and disease
• Must be fed a diet that is as natural as possible and free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
• Must only be given drugs to treat an illness – the routine use of antibiotics is prohibited
• Cannot be given hormones which make them grow more quickly or make them more productive
• Must not be produced from cloned animals.”
Where does it say on there that they can be vaccinated?
If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s, Edwina Curry caused quite a storm in this country by claiming that most UK eggs had Salmonella. Now flocks of chickens, including those endorsed by the Soil Association (a logo of organic foods), are vaccinated. Chickens can carry two species of Salmonella: S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium.
If you are caring for hens, keep their nest boxes clean and ensure good hygiene. Cook your eggs well.
Ingredients of salmonella vaccine:
I had planned to give you a list of the ingredients of the salmonella vaccine.
“Due to legal requirements, certain sections of this web site can only be made accessible to health care professionals. We invite animal healthcare professionals to register an Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health web site account to obtain access to all restricted content on this web site and on many other Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health web sites.”
Surely if ‘you are what you eat’ is so important, then this should be a matter for public record? Why isn’t this information readily available?
Anyone who has done indepth research into vaccines will know without doubt that there is no place for them in the food chain.