Friday, June 03, 2011

Organic Eggs - NOT ALL Are Really Organic

According to the Cornucopia Institute (CI), a non-profit which promotes economic justice for family scale farming, all organic eggs produced in the USA are not alike.

They recently released the report - Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.

The report contains an Organic Egg Scorecard that rates 70 name brand as well as additional private label organic egg producers based on 22 factors that the organization deems critical to the typical organic consumer. The main rating criteria include outdoor access, outdoor management, indoor quality of life and welfare, and organic principles of farm interdependence and ecological sustainability.

The highest rating, five eggs, goes to companies CI considers ethical family farms, companies that go beyond national organic standards. Most of these companies are small, local distributers.

The producers given the lowest rating, one egg, are those CI believes are in violation of organic standards of animal welfare and/or were not transparent with their practices during CI's research. Sadly, many of the single-egg brands are the ones most easily available to consumers. Whole Foods' 365 brand, Trader Joe's brand, O Organic by Safeway, and Costco’s Kirkland brand all received a single egg for their sup-par performance.

The report, conducted over a one year period, details how organic egg producers vary greatly in their interpretation of the Federal USDA Organic Standards, "Paths are diverging in the organic-egg-producing community: One path affords more outdoor access and more diversity on the farm; and another path has led to large-scale industrialization motivated by profit."

While Australia has quite strict rules about what is organic and its labelling, it is quite possible that similar issues occur here.

Normally a producer is "Certified Organic" which includes strict inspections and using verifiable organic inputs, and the "Certified Organic" term is used. Claims about "organic" products are often just "claims", unless they are certified as organic.

So be eggs ain't always organic eggs!

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