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Cageless chicken eggs? Are you serious?Posted Friday, April 11, 2008, at 3:52 PM
Call me "old fashion," "set in my ways" or just plain stubborn, but I have a real problem accepting this organic food kick we hear so much about these days.
You venture out to your local grocery store and what do you see on the shelves, in the produce bins and in the refrigerated compartments?
All kinds of them.
Fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, dairy products and even meats.
The word "organic" simply refers to the way farmers grow and process these agricultural products.
"Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay," according to the Mayo Clinic's Web site.
Products that are completely organic -- such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods -- are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal.
Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients.
Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can't use the organic seal or the word "organic" on their product label. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list.
In my view, these organic goodies look the same as the conventional versions, probably taste the same and cost significantly more.
The higher prices are due to more expensive farming practices, tighter government regulations and lower crop yields.
Because organic farmers don't use herbicides or pesticides, many management tools that control weeds and pests are labor intensive -- and more costly, according to Mayo Clinic researchers.
For example, organic growers may hand weed vegetables to control weeds, and you may end up paying more for these vegetables.
You may see other terms on food labels, such as "all-natural," "free-range" or "hormone-free."
Again, is there really any difference in these products from the way generations before us have prepared our grown foods and livestock?
My sweet youngster daughter drew my attention a couple weeks back when I discovered that she was using "free range" or "cageless" eggs as I was about to prepare breakfast during a visit.
Please don't try and tell me that a free range or a egg produced by cageless chicken is really any different than a conventional egg.
The only difference is the price -- which is more than a dollar higher per dozen.
I have to admit, that's just smart marketing if you ask me.
Some animal activists are campaigning for a "free range" egg and poultry industry as the first step toward ending egg production, which is one of the first steps toward ending animal agriculture altogether as we know it.
It is a big ploy to end farming and ag practices as we known them.
An interesting sidelight was pointed out by my son-in-law who wondered how much more difficult it would be for farmers to gather "free range" eggs rather than their caged counterparts.
He likened it to a huge Easter egg hunt.
Also, USDA officials tell us there is no conclusive evidence that organic food is more nutritious or safer than conventionally grown food.
The USDA also suggests that organic fruits and vegetables spoil faster because they are not treated with waxes or preservatives. Also, you expect less-than-perfect appearances in some organic produce -- odd shapes, varying colors and perhaps smaller sizes.
Still, some people contend they can taste the difference between organic and non-organic food. Others say they find no difference. Taste is a very subjective, so I guess you'll have decide for yourself.
For me, I'm not buying the organic stuff.
Call me stubborn or stupid, I don't care.
At breakfast tomorrow, just dish me up a couple of good, old-fashion caged eggs, a heaping helping of German fried potatoes loaded with onions with a couple of pork sausage patties from a conventional Hoosier farm-raised hog on the side.
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