Make a Difference Monday happens but once a month here at BU, but you can still choose sustainable options in the Dining Halls! Do you frequent the omelet station in the dining halls during breakfast? If so, have you noticed the new signs promoting cage-free eggs? After considering the idea for several years, Dining Services is now offering cage-free eggs to students as a part of their sustainability efforts. Dining Services made this decision “because we feel it is the right thing to do from a humanitarian standpoint, and is probably the way of the future,” said Sabrina Pashtan, Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator.
According to Pashtan, cage-free eggs “come from hens that do not live in cages; they are free to roam around an enclosed space, indoors.” Hens are often kept in harsh conditions, confined within cages of less than 67 square inches, according to the Humane Society’s website. This significantly limits the animals’ ability to “engage in many of their natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust-bathing,” said Pashtan.
However, cage-free hens are treated more humanely and are allowed to engage in their natural behaviors. Cage-free eggs are a more sustainable option because, “while cage-free hens live with around 15,000-35,000 other hens, caged hens can live with up to 1,000,000 other hens, which creates a lot more waste that is very hazardous to the environment. This waste is stored in lagoons and contaminates the soil and air around it, and also greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Pashtan.
Factory hens are confined inside crowded battery cages “which leave them…reduced to little more than egg-laying machines,” said Jeffrey Kluger in a Time.com article. Free-range and organic chickens, however, “have different degrees of freedom to move and are raised on varying levels of higher-quality feed. There’s no question what kind of life the birds prefer,” reported Kluger.
Although there are no proven health benefits in choosing cage-free eggs over regular eggs, “cage-free farms provide healthier and safer working conditions for farmers.” In addition, there are no significant differences in taste between regular eggs and cage-free eggs, but “you can say that one probably feels better eating it, so that should contribute to an overall positive eating experience,” said Pashtan. As food technologist Deana Jones noted in a Time.com article, “For shoppers, the decision comes down to your ethical and moral choices.”
So the next time you are in the mood for eggs for breakfast, try the more sustainable option and select cage-free eggs.