"Applied to meat, eggs, dairy, and every now and then even fish (tuna on the range?), the free-range label is bullshit. It should provide no more peace of mind than "all-natural," "fresh," or "magical."
(Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by-five dirt patch -- and the door is closed all but occasionally.)
Very often, the eggs of factory-farmed chickens -- chickens packed against one another in vast barren barns -- are labeled free-range.
One can reliably assume that most "free-range" (or "cage-free") laying hens are debeaked, drugged, and cruelly slaughtered once "spent."
I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range."
then how do you know if the chickens and eggs are really free range or not? how can they say it if they're not?
Find a local farmer and go out and see for yourself.
You can find locals farming by going to the Eat Wild web site.
There are many farmers who still pasture raise their farm animals.
I was really surprised to find out that high-end eggs like The Country Hen, Giving Nature, Trader Joe's, and Shelton's all come from birds kept in large flocks with mutilated beaks.
I don't know any of those brands (naturally), but it doesn't surprise me. I'm finding more and more, higher-end foods/companies, the ones that we trust most, are letting us down most (things you don't see behind the scenes, such as this). It's sad. One really has to do their research.
Wiki has a decent write-up on the pros & cons of debeaking.
Eatwild website is a great way to locate local meat. Worked for me.
The Country Hen feeds fishmeal to boost Omega 3. I'd hate to see this method go mainstream; unlikely due to the price. Those are some expensive eggs.
You know, I've had some eggs from The Country Hen. They did taste fishy.
Speaking of The Country Hen organic eggs...
"A private organic labeling program, the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) "denied certification to The Country Hen because [The Country Hen] did not provide its birds with access to the outdoors."
The USDA overruled NOFA (the next day!) and ordered them to issue The Country Hen an organic certificate. NOFA/MICI sued the USDA for overruling them. It went to court. A judge ruled that "accredited certifying agents have no right to appeal when USDA overturns their decisions."
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