by Rebecca Thistlethwaite
In 2010, The Cornucopia Institute published a report on organic egg production titled Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture. We also developed the web-based Organic Egg Scorecard to give consumers and wholesale buyers a more complete story behind the organic egg carton.
This year Cornucopia is completely updating the organic egg report and scorecard. We appreciate the hard work of organic egg farmers in producing one of the most nutritious foods, and we want to assist ethical farmers—the good eggs, if you will—in sharing their stories.
Unfortunately, lax enforcement by the USDA has now made it possible to produce “organic” eggs on giant CAFOs confining as many as 100,000 birds in a single house, with little or no legitimate access to the outdoors, as required by organic standards. This is a betrayal of consumer trust and places ethical egg producers and brands at a competitive disadvantage.
Consumers expect the organic label to signify ecological stewardship, humane animal welfare, and economic justice for family farmers. When you buy organic eggs, this expectation applies as well. The Cornucopia Institute developed the Organic Egg Scorecard to empower consumers and wholesale buyers to better understand the egg brands you see on the store shelf, allowing you to make good, discerning decisions in the marketplace.
Cornucopia is sending a survey on production practices to all the organic egg brands we could identify around the country. We will then follow up with additional investigations and/or site visits. After we have received and inputted all the survey information, the scorecard will be updated with new brands and expanded scoring criteria, to be released later this year.
Egg brands that transparently share the story behind their label with their customers are viewed as ethical participants in the organic community. The updated scorecard will be shared widely via Cornucopia’s website, quarterly newsletter, biweekly e-news, social media channels, and press releases. (Our previous reports and research have been covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, ABC, NBC, Fox News, and dozens of other news outlets.)
So if you’re an organic egg farmer, send in your completed survey today! If you’re an egg lover, look forward to this important tool that will help you support the farmers and brands that uphold true organic principles.