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Tainted Eggs and Food Safety

The massive egg recall gets bigger. We look at what’s going on in the hen house and with American food safety.

Chickens in their cages at a farm in Iowa, 2009. (AP)

Nearly 150,000 cases of egg-born salmonella in the United States are recorded every year, and the very latest FDA regulations don’t require hens to be vaccinated for it. 

It would cost a penny an egg maybe - and we don’t demand it. In the U.K., it’s standard — and it cut salmonella there by 97 percent. 

Why not here? It’s just one of the mysteries as the great egg recall of 2010 rolls on. Half a billion eggs called back.  Some very bad players are in the story — and maybe a bad system.  

No “sunny-side up” here. Not right now. We looking at the great egg recall, and food safety in America.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Jill Richardson, sustainable food activist and blogger at La Vida Locavore. Her 2009 book is Recipe for America: Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do To Fix It. Read her August 25 article on the egg recall on Alternet.com.

Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Her CNN article ”Time to Unscramble Food Safety System,” appeared on August 25.

Stephen Herbruck, president of Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, Michigan. Herbruck’s has over 5 million hens and produces 60 percent of Michigan’s eggs.

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Paul

    According to an article in the NY Times, Great Britain has reduced their incidences of egg-born salmonella approx. 97% since 1997, when they began vaccinating their hens. (Voluntarily)

    It’s also been reported that some American producers vaccinate, but the majority do not. (Also voluntarily)

    What is upsetting to me is that the knee-jerk reaction from egg industry experts and food safty experts seems to be, “Well, you just can’t have soft scrambled or sunny side up or over easy or pasta carbonara or homemade mayonnaise anymore.”

    I refuse. Instead, you fix your salmonella problems, Mr. Egg Producer!

    FDA, where are you?

  • Zeno

    Once deregulation, lobbyists, and subsidies to mega farms have created a situation where rotten and tainted food are fed to us peasants, and the FDA is powerless to even enforce anything related to health safety standards.

    The FDA and all other regulatory agencies must get on their knees and ask if the corporations if they will uphold their voluntary promise to run a legitimate business.

    Will the feudal lords who get the tax breaks comply?

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I agree with Paul and Zeno: our regulatory agencies need a complete overhaul and the Senate, which is also on the take isn’t going to do it.

  • Nathan Karol

    The problems with factory farming and the food industry are too big to even begin to tackle. Especially when government is involved in so many aspects. The real solution is to know your farmer. Buy local and eat local. Eggs of all things are so easy to get from a local farm, and in some areas perhaps even a neighbor. If you can’t get to a farm, buy organic eggs and DO YOUR RESEARCH about the farm you are buying from. The Organic Consumer Association website is a great resource for organic farms as well as news from the organic industry.

  • http://metaleks.net Aleks

    I’m not going to pretend to understand the whole problem, but the lack of vaccinations for animals is certainly a large part of it.

    http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.1795/news_detail.asp

  • http://metaleks.net Aleks

    I’m not going to pretend to understand the entire problem, but the lack of vaccinations for animals is certainly a large part of it.

  • http://bruceguindon.com bruce guindon

    not enough inspectors, more inspectors less dirty places

  • CHRIS M

    Although the chances of local eggs being contaminated is lower, it is not absolute. Knowing your local farmer is great, but you still have to be careful.

  • http://ibelieveinbutter.wordpress.com/ Soli

    I am with Nathan and also very much AGAINST vaccinating chickens. If we actually let chickens be chickens, and they roam around eating grass and bugs like their stomachs can properly digest, we don’t have to worry about these kind of things happening.
    I thought everyone had read Omnivore’s Dilemma and developed the fetish for orange yolks like the eggs from Polyface farm. You’re not going to get those from vaccinated chickens.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’ve been googling on this, mainly taking off from Democracy Now!’s site, where on August 24th a guest was David Kirby, author of “Animal Factory: the Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms on Humans and the Environment,” and another guest Anuradha Mittal, of the Oakland Institute, Burlington, VT, and a link to the full report of that group “(Mis)investment in Agriculture, The Role of International Finance Corporation in Global Land Grabs.” Apparently the big hedge fund money that had gone to private home hopes is now going to buying vast tracts all over the world, switching from one-family one-farm to the big corporate approach that depletes the land, ruins the food, and turns the farmers into serfs of the international corporations. I couldn’t bear to read it. See OaklandInstitute or DemocracyNow sites. See also Raj Patel’s book “Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System.”
    As to chickens (among other animals), if you put arsenic in their feed, it will make the chickens just sick enough that they will gorge themselves and in drinking and eating, try to rid themselves of the poison, and of course fatten up quick. A small amount of antibiotic in the feed will do the same thing, fatten them up. But their manure, passed on to us via fertilizer, now has the arsenic and antibiotics.
    This makes me think: I too eat polluted food, and I too eat and drink in order to thin-out the toxic load in my body. I understand the chicken situation empathetically. Sympathetically.
    It is one thing to fix what I or we eat. It is another to turn the Titanic and start to think of food as a local responsibility; you see it growing, you eat it.

  • Mary Elizabeth

    The fact that such large factory egg farms even exist is the root of the problem, beginning with the cruelty to the chickens that these endeavers require. Should it really be necessary to vaccinate chickens if they are properly cared for?
    Yes, there are options. Buy local or look for eggs produced as nature intended- a little more expensive, but taste better and are safe.

  • T. Voyd

    Every person in this country should watch two documentaries, FOOD Inc and King Corn. If after watching these two documentaries you don’t change the way you eat,then your just not that concerned about the food you eat. I have Crohn’s disease and everything I eat is organic and I stopped eating out two years ago. It is no more expensive to eat organic than otherwise. A bag of organic carrots cost less than any bag of potato chips and whole grain oats are ten cents a serving, no box of sugary cereal is that cheap. Many other organic foods are just as affordable. People will buy a $5 cup of coffee or a $1 can of soda or a $1.50 bag of M&M’s at the 7-11, but won’t buy a $3 dozen of organic eggs. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    Yes, buy locally, but even more so, grow locally. For crying out loud, people spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year to keep a golf course like front lawn. Why not put all that money and effort into a garden if you have the space.

    People want to blame the government for every problem, but you have the FREEDOM to make change yourself. GROW A GARDEN and help bring on some beneficial change.

  • Egg Rage

    Why did the chicken cross the road?

  • Ellen Dibble

    It was tired of its factory job and wanted to see the light.

  • Ellen DIbble

    Sorry, chicks.
    SHE was tired of HER factory, and wanted to “see the light.”
    (I’m still thinking about religion, yes.)

  • jeffe

    I just read this article by Robert Reich on the owner of the company responsible for all of this.
    Jack DeCoster, who owns Wright County Egg which is headquartered in Galt, Iowa, sends eggs all over the country under many different brands. This man has a rap sheet as long as his arm in breaking laws and safety regulations. Why is he still in business I have to ask?

    http://robertreich.org/post/985703357/corporate-rotten-eggs

  • Fred

    America is good at economies of scale… ie supply chain at WalMart.

    This breeds Very Large Scale enterprises that feed this supply chain. It is just logic and logistics which make salmonella and other outbreaks ie E. coli….difficult to abate / control.

    Perhaps at the scale of these large suppliers, that vaccinations become mandatory in lieu of voluntary at smaller scale growers / producers.

    We’ve got to rethink the food chain / supply / regulations, otherwise outbreaks such as this and / or things ie salmonella, E. coli, avian flu diseases and possible cross species infections are commonplace.

  • Egg Rage

    Eggsactly, Fred

  • Ellen Dibble

    MRSA came out of the use of antibiotics on farm-factories, I heard, and I heard about a far worse bacteria now starting to go the rounds, beginning in England. Knowing as I do someone who will probably be a vegetable for the rest of her natural life because of a MRSA infection (treated), after a relatively routine recent brain surgery, what shocked me was that the MRSA infection was not highlighted. Everything else was discussed. The infection was viewed as a “cost of doing business,” what hospitals have to deal with.
    So we first avoid the food, then we avoid the hospitals. We need to get a grip.

  • Fred

    Oh yeah, forgot to throw in the biggie:

    Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

  • jim

    in the supermarkets where I live they sell pasteurized eggs from a brand called Davidson’s. They are a white egg and quite good. They don’t seem to be extra-large, though.

  • brandstad

    Tom,

    Has your guest ever set foot on an egg farm? She made comments that made it sound like the extent of her knowledge was web based and limited.

  • John

    From BP to mine deaths to banks to our food supply, companies would rather cut costs for short term profits and then end up with disasters that can’t be cost effective in the long run.

  • owen

    You get what you pay for. This is a problem caused by consumer driven prices reduction. The savings come from low standards.

  • Raphe O’Geaney

    From the Healthy Kitchen site– please note the comments on the banning of factory farms, the quality issues between factory eggs & those from free range, and the real costs– ALSO you mentioned vaccinations– please, no more drugs in our food chain.

    Thank you
    It’s not all bad news, however. In 1999, the European Union outlawed battery cages. And voters in California, Arizona, and Florida have recently approved ballot measures to ban them. In Ohio, the second largest egg-producing state after Iowa, officials have agreed to eliminate the practice by 2015. (That just leaves 98% of the country’s eggs supply left to change.)

    If such a proposal ever reaches the ballot in my state, I’ll be one of the first in line to vote it in. But I’ve all-but given up trying to fight the power of corporate lobbyists.

    “In the end,” says the CDC website, “it is up to the consumer to demand a safe food supply; up to industry to produce it; up to researchers to develop better ways of doing so; and up to government to see that it happens, to make sure it works and to identify problems still in need of solutions.”

    Pardon my cynicism. But: “Yeah, right.” See what happens when you “demand” safer food from the USDA.

    I Found a Better Way to Get My Voice Heard

    I haven’t (knowingly) eaten a factory egg in a long, long time because I don’t want to support this kind of cruelty or second-rate product. I prefer to give my egg money to local farmers who let their hens run free in the pasture where they can peck on grass, wild greens, bugs and worms.

    If you don’t like CAFO practices any more than I do, let’s vote together with our dollars. Let’s boycott factory eggs, while purchasing the pasture-raised kind. Sooner or later, the egg industry will get the message and change their ways.

    Mainstream America is (slowly) learning the hard way about the true value of a wholesome, healthful, and sustainable food supply. I wonder how many more crises like this egg recall it will take to wake everyone up?

    It’s Time to Stand Together

    Consider how much has been taken from us in so little time: We’ve lost personal liberties … economic independence … freedom of choice in the marketplace … citizen influence on government … and a real say in public policies. We absolutely have to draw a line in the sand when it comes to our food supply.

    We need to stand together as health-loving citizen-consumers and vote with our dollars. We must support the dedicated farmers and growers on the organic frontline who are staking their financial lives on producing pure, wholesome food for all of us.

  • Jon Weber

    Is it true that salmonella is transmitted through feces? So would the hens have to be eating feces to be infected by salmonella?

    Jon Weber

  • http://timberati.com Norm

    Paul, Zeno, et. al.,

    If you want more mega-farms give the FDA more power. FDA regulations require larger firms because the FDA requires more forms (hence more staff, more computers, more stuff). As the Materials Management Agency proved with the Deepwater disaster, more forms do not equal more safety.

    Let’s keep it simple; require the vaccination and stop clucking.

  • Brigham Taylor

    The obvious way to protect ourselves is to buy eggs from small-scale, local producers who raise cage-free chickens in a humane fashion. These chickens are able to build natural immunities and produce superior eggs. And unlike natural meat and poultry (and often vegetables), these eggs are readily available and only slightly more expensive than industrially produced eggs.

  • jim

    Here’s a link to the company that sells pasteurized eggs:

    http://www.safeeggs.com/

  • count

    Jon Weber, chicken feed could be contaminated with feces from infected mice, birds, etc.

  • brandstad

    Tom,

    Iowa is the #1 egg producer in the US

  • Teri swartzel

    I get my eggs (and milk) from a local market that sells local products. The market is around the corner from me. The eggs come from about 15 miles away. That’s 20 miles or so from downtown Boston to my fridge all free of antibiotics, and other nasty elements, and the chickens have a decent life. Buy local, buy less, eat less, be more healthy.

  • BHA

    If a given hen is infected, will EVERY egg she lays be infected?

    AND

    If one hen is infected will the others likely get infected from her?

    I’m thinking along the lines of “if you buy from a local farmer, is it easier for them to control this sort of thing?”

    Obviously a factory farm won’t be able to figure out which hen an infected egg came from but a small farmer might have the chance. Plus, the local farmer is likely eating the same eggs they sell to you. If s/he gets sick, you can bet they will figure out where the problem lies.

  • John

    I remember reading about a meat producer who wanted to test their beef and then label that it had been tested and the other companies succeeded in stopping him from labeling his meat as tested. So much for the marketplace.

  • CHRIS M

    When I lived in ME, Jack DeCoster was sued by the state for employment and safety violations. He changed the name of the operation and continued working as usual. So much for regualtion!

  • count

    Who, what agency or company, certifies hens, eggs, chicken feed to be free of salmonella? Anybody know?

  • Ellen Dibble

    What I heard from Kirby on DemocracyNow (see my first post up top) was that chicken feces are fed (in dried form) to I believe pigs, or maybe cattle feed, thus passing all the arsenic and antibiotics on to them (and us). I didn’t hear what chickens eat.
    Also: jobs. One might think a Factory Farm employs more people. I think we know the risks of a large factory, with profit-takers on Wall Street. Short-term profit is their middle name.
    I think there would be more employment, more reliable employment, if farms went small once again. Start with back-yard enterprise and start re-infiltrating the system. This food buyer for one watches for Local Hero signs on all produce.

  • http://www.gregoryleewhite.com Gregory White

    I find this to be a good excuse for people to look into the urban chicken movement. So many people now keep 4 to 5 hens in their own backyards, which is how America used to be.
    Gregory White – author of CLUCKED, the chicken industry told through the eyes of the chicken.

  • count

    Ellen Dibble, I wonder where the chicken litter from the infected DeCoster and Hillandale hens went.

  • Jon Weber

    The the current caller, has there ever been a recall of locally grown produce? Does he know the numbers of the people that get sick from local produce? Or is people getting sick from food a systemic issue from our mass production techniques.

  • Carlo Danese

    We need to look at this in the larger context of the anti regulation mentality that has ruled the country since the Raegan administration. President Obama needs to make a teaching moment out of this. Not just the current egg crisis, but the BP crisis and before that the coal mine disaster, which fell off the radar when the oil spill happened. The right wing calls any regulation ‘job killing’ and most of the people seem unaware of history. The right wing is full of industry shils, and the thing that will stop them is education. The people are lied to because the shils think they are stupid. Talk about the previous gilded age and the sacrifices people made in the early twentieth century to change those wrongs. Under the Bush administration a lot of regulation halted as staff was cut. Federal mine safety inspectors are stretched thin, and make an appointment with the mine so the company can clean up. In union mines, there is a union safety warden working every day. Huge difference. Will all this regulation make things cost more? Perhaps. What is the cost of the BP oil disaster? Of the current egg crisis? Of people in emergency rooms who do not have health insurance? You pay up front, in an organized way, or after the fact, in a mindless scramble.

  • http://timberati.com Norm

    If you like buying from your little corner supplier, beware the FDA trying to use this one event to increase its reach. The Food Safety Enhancement Act requires (if passed) about 378,000 food preparation facilities to pay an annual registration fee of $500 fee, to keep voluminous records about their safety systems, and be subject to FDA-approved inspections every year or two.

    Our food supply continues to be safer though the number of media reports increase. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s foodborne illness surveillance system shows that since 1998, rates of infection in 2009 were lower for Shigella (55 percent decrease), Yersinia (53 percent decrease), STEC O157 (41 percent decrease), Campylobacter (30 percent decrease), Listeria (26 percent decrease), and Salmonella (10 percent decrease).

  • Ronald Johnson

    Vegan is the only way. Eating eggs is inherently cruel because all the make chicks get slaughtered, often by being shredded while alive.

    http://www.goveg.com/factoryFarming_chickens_egg.asp

    http://www.eggindustry.com/

    Herbruck is full of it too.

    Go vegan for the sake of the animals and the planet.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Small farms would help to identify the source of the problem, and would limit the damage, in case of salmonella.
    Also, nowadays we have organizations supporting local farms, CISA, CSA — I don’t know exactly which is which but those are here — but there are ways non-factory farms can collaborate and produce in safer ways than a few decades ago, it seems to me.
    You wouldn’t have one hen contaminating eggs of several brands in about 48 states.

  • Mary F.

    Can you ask the guests what the conditions are for hens laying eggs that are sold as “cage-free”? And what do we know about food safety for cage-free eggs?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Don’t even THINK about the so-called tax breaks for American agriculture. TOO MUCH to think about. Protecting jobs, I suppose. Or else they’d be outsourced to India? Not likely. Another issue? Or just sheer avoidance.
    Small-scale farms should have big federal support, in community colleges, in libraries, on tax forms.

  • count

    Mary F., the cage-free label is not regulated and doesn’t tell us much. It certainly does NOT mean free-range. pasture-raised, or anything like that. If I raised 100,000 broilers in a 75,000 square foot barn without cages, I could label them cage-free.

  • Carol Popken

    Please ask the host to use the correct pronunciation of Salmonella. It is not related to the fish and the first “l” is pronounced.

  • Ronald Johnson

    Hello everybody: DO NOT EAT EGGS! Problem solved. There are tons of healthier and more ethical alternatives. We do NOT need to exploit animals to live. OMG, why don’t people get it?

  • Dee

    Welcome to our Brave New World. The current egg contamination is a product of the deregulation feeding frenzy that stared under President Reagan and has been taken to new heights courtesy of the Wal-Martizatin of our economic model. Squeeze the producer to control costs; shortchange every part if the process to maximize profits; cut-throat retailing to reduce competition;, and making shareholder returns the only thing of importance in the business cycle. Let’s not blame the consumer for poisoned food.

  • count

    Ronald Johnson, we need to have eggs to throw at politicians.

  • BHA

    As I understand it, “free range” doesn’t mean the chickens are free to wander around an open area whenever they like. The “free range” label can be used if the chickens are free to wander only a few minutes a day. They could be in a cage 99% of the time.

    Back to the ‘know your source’ plan.

  • Lambert Chen

    I understand that it’s a problem when people got sick. But in most part of the world you would have to boil the tap water before you drink it, and you eat raw food at your own risk. If everyone just thoroughly cook their eggs, are we still going to have a problem? Could it be that we are so advanced nowadays that we have lost the right perspective of nature?

  • Ray Lampe

    Would freezing kill bacteria in eggs?

  • brandstad

    Farmers markets are in large part scams.

    I worked at a large chain grocery store for several years and we sold truck loads of produce that was then resold at the farmers market as locally grown.

    Some of the goods at farmers markets are locally grown, but muchof it is not and you never know which one you are getting.

  • Ray

    Tom
    Would we be better off is a topic for a whole different show.
    Our food system is set up so that a major break in the supply chain will have us deteriorate into anarchy in less than a month.
    Look what happens when a storm happen in a small area. Just think if we have a pandemic or some other nation wide problem that disrupts food distribution.

  • count

    Ray Lampe, freezing would inhibit bacteria reproducing and multiplying, but I don’t think it would kill them. (I’m not 100% sure, though.)

  • brandstad

    Very true, egg throwing at politicians is a growing industry especially with the surge in progressives and other poloticians that don’t read the bills they vote on and don’t read the bills the say they authored.

  • Ronald Johnson

    Tom Ashbrook: “Eggs are tasty”! Tom…look at the cost of satisfying your taste buds…that is such a selfish commnet.

    http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html

    Eggs = all male chicks cruelly killed.

  • BHA

    I trust the last caller has no pets. Not all animals raised to produce food are treated poorly.

    If you can deal with keeping your dog, cat, bird, etc in the house with you, you should be able to deal with animal friendly agriculture.

  • Amy Carlson

    My family raises our own backyard chickens. It is simple and the eggs are amazing!

    We recently watched an episode of “Dirty Jobs” (Discovery Channel) where we saw what happens when cattle die of natural causes. After the hide is removed, the remaining carcus is pulverized, cooked, and then used in poultry feed. And we ask ourselves why commercial hens are carrying salmonella??

    This is food no poultry is meant to eat. It is time Americans start asking themselves what they are eating. Even if free-ranging is not possible for commercial chicken farmers, it IS possible to use feed that is natural for hens to consume. Why don’t we think what these animals eat would not be passed on through their byproducts (eggs, milk, etc.)

  • jim

    Ray, there’s already a pasteurization process that kills salmonella and bacteria, but it is not widely used:

    http://www.safeeggs.com/

  • count

    brandstad, depends on the farmers market. Your statement is grossly over stretched, in my experience.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I understand economies of scale. I believe Tom spoke of consolidation in shocking extremes in the last decades, and it makes me think the small farmer would have been bought out, would have been driven away, out of a family business.
    How are small farms to start to compete with factory farming once again — I mean, at last?
    The hidden cost, like that of petroleum/oil/gas, is out health, and something needs to make the ACTUAL cost of consolidated farming clear.
    Keep that model. Let it produce safely somehow. But let there be valid competition from small farms.
    HOW?

  • http://www.gregoryleewhite.com Gregory White

    our eggs have come from our own backyard for over two years now. Healthy eggs from gentle pets. Gregory White, author of CLUCKED, the chicken industry through the eyes of the chicken.
    http://www.amazon.com/Clucked-Chicken-Gregory-Lee-White/dp/1453715347/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282834650&sr=8-1

  • BHA

    brandstad: Where were this store and the farmer’s markets?

    It is REALLY easy to tell that the booths at the market in Burlington VT are selling food that has never seen the inside of a supermarket.

  • John

    If you don’t want to eat eggs, don’t. (I don’t eat them unless they are an ingredient in something.) The rest of us should be able to expect safe food and saying don’t eat eggs as a solution to safety problems in the food chain is ridiculous. Should the contaminated spinach problem have been dismissed by saying don’t eat spinach. Agriculture should be reformed to be made more humane. Most people are not going to become vegans but could probably be convinced to cut back on meat and egg consumption a bit. If everyone cut out a few meals a week the total effect on animals and the environment would be greater than a convincing very small number of people to completely stop eating animal products.

  • brandstad

    If we had 100K small farms producing eggs instead of 100s of large farms, wouldn’t that make FDA testing more expensive or less freequent, recals more dificult to pinpoint quickly and overall quality of product much more uncertain!

  • brandstad

    BHA, the farmers markets that the grocery store stocked were in central and southern iowa. I agree that it is easily spotted at the farmers market, but most people go to the market assuming it comes from a local farm and don’t question the fact that the farmers market is selling out of season produce or other signs of store bought food.

  • Ellen Dibble

    We have a city farm, among others, and they give tours, and write a column for the paper, and are the center of a farmers market on Tuesday. If the 30,000 of us had about eight farms, which could happen, and we, with our six farmers markets ate lots of their food (Food Stamps are accepted now at these markets, so everybody comes), do you suppose our Health Department (one guy) could respond in case of a problem? We would set up a commission. If we even have a person with a too-messy bedroom, there is a front-page article in the daily paper.

  • M. LaBranche

    I am a little frustrated that you never discussed the nutritional value of eggs and made no mention of people who are not able to feed their families. It is a luxury to avoid eggs and be able to provide a nutritionally-balanced diet when you are barely able to feed your family. Eggs are a meal in a shell, with many nutrients that are absent in vegetable products.
    Consumers drive some of the need for low cost eggs because their families have no other options. I doubt this is the reason we have big factory farms, that’s just plain greediness, but what is someone to do to keep their family fed?
    Thanks to your farmer guest who was gracious and thoughtful. He is a credit to our agricultural roots.

  • CHRIS M

    We belong to a local CSA and pick up our fresh veggies weekly from them from June – Oct. I can, freeze and cold-store as much as possible so we have, if not fresh, quality veggies/fruit all year long. Buy local as much as possible and support your local farmers. Store bought just doesn’t match up.

  • http://timberati.com Norm

    Lambert Chen, you are a breath of fresh air in an over-heated room.

  • T. Voyd

    Every person in this country should watch two documentaries, FOOD Inc and King Corn. If after watching these two documentaries you don’t change the way you eat,then your just not that concerned about the food you eat. I have Crohn’s disease and everything I eat is organic and I stopped eating out two years ago. It is no more expensive to eat organic than otherwise. A bag of organic carrots cost less than any bag of potato chips and whole grain oats are ten cents a serving, no box of sugary cereal is that cheap. Many other organic foods are just as affordable. People will buy a $5 cup of coffee or a $1 can of soda or a $1.50 bag of M&M’s at the 7-11, but won’t buy a $3 dozen of organic eggs. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    Yes, buy locally, but even more so, grow locally. For crying out loud, people spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year to keep a golf course like front lawn. Why not put all that money and effort into a garden if you have the space.

    People want to blame the government for every problem, but you have the FREEDOM to make change yourself. GROW A GARDEN and help bring on some beneficial change.

  • S. Huckins

    We as a public have no regard or concern for what food we’re eating, where it actually COMES from, what it may be doing to the environment or animals, etc UNTIL there is some large outbreak of food illness! Then we are up in arms!

    If Americans could be more conscience of what they’re eating and see the value in eating local, natural, and humane products, the world would be such a better place!

    We eat eggs from our local farmer. The shells are thick and robust, the yolk is a velvety gold, they are organic and humane, and I don’t have to be worried about my safety!!

    Read Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” and watch “FOOD, Inc.”!

  • steve

    Visit a factory farm…
    any product, anywhere, organic or not…

    If you have any concern about your food supply…

    You will opt out.

    It can be done BUT government regulators empowered to protect consumers deliberately seek to thwart smaller producers within local communities.

  • roger

    You can’t have 8 billion people on this planet eating cheap food without these kinds of problems.

  • Egg Rage

    To prove to skunks and racoons that it can be done.

  • John Shelton

    The first two guests contributed nothing of value.

    I bought a dozen good eggs yesterday for $.98. I may be crazy, but I prefer them to those barnyard eggs.

    A note to your guests. Argueing for HIGHER food prices is a losing game. Learn something about ag economics.

  • Fred

    @ Carlo Danese….

    YES, and NOT only with eggs BUT EVERYTHNG….

    Regulations which were stripped over the past 20+ years have pretty much got us into this mess / state of affairs, INCLUDING the financial meltdown fiasco.

    When regulations separating commercial & investment banks were done away with, well you get what we have now….. Wall Street gambling with EVERYONE’S money NOT just fat cat Wall Streeters and high net worth individuals…….

    Fred

  • jeffe

    Farmers markets are in large part scams.

    I worked at a large chain grocery store for several years and we sold truck loads of produce that was then resold at the farmers market as locally grown.

    Some of the goods at farmers markets are locally grown, but muchof it is not and you never know which one you are getting.
    Posted by brandstad,

    This is nothing more than misinformation, period.
    You are making assumptions about markets you know nothing about.

  • Egg Rage

    Great. Another pseudo crisis fed by anti corporate, anti profit liberals. Our food is fine, the envy of the world. Cook your food, use common sense, don’t be stampeded by the latest liberal fear campaign. Just because the left is falling from power doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy scrambled eggs…..I think I’ll go have a poached egg.

    God bless you all.

  • Ellen Dibble

    http://pioneervalleybackyardchickenassociation.weebly.com/index.html
    Today’s PBS special locally (WGBY Springfield, MA) featured a local chicken grower who moved here from a coastal city, and she did mention that the association whose site that is (Backyard Chicken Association) is a crucial boost farmers did not have in olden days.
    Is it worth it? To listen to her, the experience sounds equivalent to having a baby: life-changing. The eggs are in a whole different category, but the relation to the food chain is re-established, in short.
    I think the whole movement started with a few chicken raising classes at the public library.

  • Laura

    Your guest, Mr. Herbruck, made a comment that people should try raising chickens for eggs and they would find out that it isn’t as easy as it seems and large farms provide a valued service. Well, Mr. Herbruck. I have tried it and my little flock is easier to care for and more low maintenance than growing a garden. And, imagine this – the eggs taste better, are unquestionably fresher and I have complete quality control. Everyone should have a few hens and put the large factory farms out of business.

  • egg guy

    I am a large farmer like Mr Herbruck who I know personally. First of all let me state that he and his family are leaders in egg production and are of high personal integrity. Most of the large egg producers care about Food Safety (many of us are SQF certified – not an easy certification to get), we care about proper animal care, and the environment. We spend a lot of money every year improving our operations in these areas not because it is required but because it is the right thing to do.

    The new FDA Egg Safety Rule has extended the state quality programs that many of us operated under to the entire country so that now Mr Decoster has to do what we have already done to make our eggs safe.

    We are audited by the USDA, now FDA also, state department of Environment, state departmens of labor, etc.

    Unfortunately Mr Herbruck did not get to challenge the accusation that manure is improperly disposed of. Many of us sell our manure for use as fertilizer – it is no longer considered a waste product but a valuable product.

    If you are getting all your information from the Vegan Groups or Food Inc, you are not getting the complete story. If you get to know a farmer, you will find that we are good honest hardworking folks. Unfortunately, just like any group there bad actors. I agree that the government should clamp down harder on someone who ignores regulation. a Habitual Offender should be watched very closely.

    I will also tell you that smaller farms will have a lot harder time dealing with the new regulations than larger farms.

    You already have the choice at the supermarket of regular eggs or organic or cage free. most folks choose the regular eggs. But you have a choice.

  • Cara

    “Happier” hens is ridiculous… Whether they’re conventional or cage-free, these animals are not living the lives a bird has a right to live as a living, feeling being.

    Define cage-free, please. It’s not the bucolic image of hens running free that many would believe. The chickens are still primarily horribly caged and confined.

    How a society treats its animals… yeah, we can learn a lot from this. About us. About what will happen to us, ultimately. Treat sentient beings with so disgracefully, and yes, there will be consequences.

    We can’t have our eggs and eat them, too.

  • egg guy

    Fred,

    you are way wrong. Regulation has been increasing a lot. Animal care, food safety, environmental. It is difficult to keep up with all of them. Especially for a small farm!!! People – you don’t realize that smaller farms do not have the resources to devote the time to all of these regulations.

    This still comes down to the way one person was running their company. It is about personal decisions of one company to disregard programs which were promoted to improve egg safety, provide for normal environmental protection, provide a safe place for people to work, provide decent housing for his illegal alien staff (most of us hire Americans!).

    He should be held accountable.

  • Agriculture

    I can see that people are grossly underinformed here. What makes you think that small farmers would produce safer food? Big industry is the only reason it’s possible to have any regulations at all. Absolutely, mistakes happen, people get sick, and someone is responsible. But when small, backyard farmers “leave animal health up to nature,” bad things can happen. And frankly, there pockets aren’t deep enough to compensate you when things go wrong. Want orange yolks? Feed your chickens marigold petals. It’s no secret or insight into the health of the animal. Everyone agrees that animals roaming on free pasture are healthier and happier than those in confinement. Want to see America convert to that system widespread? Can’t feed the world that way. China is the closest thing to “widespread local farming” that the world’s gonna get, and sorry folks, they’re no pillar of consumer safety.

  • Listener

    I listened to the show and was disappointed in the choice of guests. While I agree with her position, Jill Richardson did not appear to be a stellar spokesperson. Comments like “I did some research yesterday and farmers get, like zero for their eggs” seem pretty fluffy. They get zero? And you just did the research yesterday using Google? And then citing Mother Earth News as a bastian of solid peer reviewed research on nutritional content of eggs? I agree they are better but find a beter source than that, please.

    Tom, you are better than this. Your producers need to research the guests with a bit more rigor.

    Still love the show – just missed the mark on this guest list.

  • jeffe

    I see we now have the defenders of large agribusiness out in force. Claiming that we can not feed the world without factory farming. Well it’s pretty evident that factory farming is unsustainable. From the feed lots for raising beef to the giant hog farms and the egg factories it seems to me that all of this is unsustainable.

    What is the answer to this problem people ask themselves.
    Well for one cheap fast food is one of the main actors in all of this. Feed lots were developed for giving them cheap beef sources. Before we became a fast food nation people ate less meat than they do now. When I was growing up I don’t remember having meat 7 days a week. It was maybe twice a week. We ate chicken and fish. My mother use to buy the chickens at a poultry market she would pick a live one out and they would kill it out back. Of course these kind of small butcher shops don’t exist anymore as supermarkets and the demand for cheap food has done away with the small producer and provider.

    As to the current egg recall well it is clear that the DeCoster egg factories are bad actors in this. Why these people are still in business is beyond me. They run a bad operation and from I have been reading about this family run business they have long and checkered history.

    This is from the article listed below: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources declared Mr. DeCoster a “habitual violator,” making his the only operation ever to be deemed such in Iowa, for its handling of hog waste. And Mr. DeCoster paid more than $1.5 million as part of a settlement with 11 female workers, most of them Mexican, at his egg facilities over sexual harassment and assault charges, including rapes by supervisors.

    Not what I would call a well run company. The thing that sticks out to me is “habitual violator”.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/us/27eggs.html?_r=1&hp

  • jeffe

    I should add that the DeCoster egg farms has apparently cleaned up their act in recent years according to the NY times article I listed. But they still have this bad rep and it seems their presence has had an interesting effect on the politics of the town of Clarion, Iowa where people are pretty hard pressed to speak out against this company.

    However I don’t agree with this kind of farming practices but there is a need for it and this is the situation. How do we produce good safe food for a growing population at a reasonable cost?

  • christina

    I am pissed at the FDA because they won’t close down these “Big Companies” that are treating their animals poorly and letting consumers suffer from their faults. I am 15 and continuously learning about these big problems with the food industry in America today. I have a whole new look on what I have been eating and I hope to spread the truth someday to as many people possible. Consumers should have their say!

  • T. Voyd

    Consumers do have their say Christina. My next few comments will not set well with many people. The U.S. does need safe food, I repeat,the U.S. does need safe food. But consider this, this country has eaten itself into the most obese country in the world, 2/3 are overweight and 1/3 are obese. The medical world has proven a connection to obesity and many preventable diseases. The CDC list these PREVENTABLE diseases. So, people scream for safe food and what do they do, they eat themslves to death, literally!!

    So look around you Christinia, at the number of people overweight and obese, some will have medical conditions contributing to their overweight condition, but sadly, most simply eat to much. Americans consumed 2200 calories per day in 1970, today the number is 2757. Even worse, 27% of all food prepared and ready to eat is thrown away and 17% of all garbage is food scraps.

    So, look at what people are doing with their food, getting obese and throwing it away. The best way to tell people about this is to lead by example. Eat only what you need to eat and throw nothing away.

  • Sunshine

    “From the feed lots for raising beef to the giant hog farms and the egg factories it seems to me that all of this is unsustainable. ”
    Jeffe, it SEEMS to YOU? That must be the most researched, scientific musing on this board.
    I don’t mean any disrespect with my sarcasm. It’s just, please do a little research from valid sources before you make comments like that.
    Big agriculture produces the most food with the smallest amount of land and water. Land and water shortages are the reason that the industry has started to condense. You’re right, the surface reason for integrating agriculture (making it bigger) is for some guy at the top to make more money. Want to know why he’s making more money? Land, water, and energy costs are going up because they’re limited resources. Unfortunately, he gets the unwanted side effect of being more sustainable in the process.
    You are 100% correct in your assumption that the 40 goat farm uses less land, water, and energy than the 4,000 sow farm. But, per animal, per lb of meat produced? No competition.
    DeCoster has a long record of criminal violations that extend beyond food production. He happens to be an agriculture giant. There are a lot of honest businessmen out there that have built agricultural empires that aren’t so flawed in character. Don’t judge them all. Have they made their fortunes by paying their employees minimum wage? You bet. But if you think that Stonybrook Organic Yogurt Company has the best interest of the “little guy” in mind, you’re as naive as their CEOs hope you are. They’re laughing all the way to the bank, with you paying a premium for the same milk.
    And local farmers aren’t without their bad apples too. A backyard swine farmer in my community got busted for running a child pornography ring in his home. Imagine what it would do to the decent local farmers out there to impose his character on the rest of them?

  • egg guy

    Sunshine – excellent points.

    All these people seem to want small farms yet are any of them leaving their job to work a small farm? No, because it is HARD WORK 7 days a week for little pay. If they did that they wouldn’t have time to sit on their lazy butts complaining on a computer about stuff that they have no experience with.

    Yeah those small farms are cute. I grew up on one. My dad worked hours that would kill most of the people clammering for small farms. We spent our summer raising vegetables and corn to sell at a roadside stand.

    Instead of complaining about how food is produced, people should go to a farmers market or farm stand and buy their food. Most people however will still go to a grocery store.

    Large farming CAN be done safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. That is where most of your food is coming from – people doing it right.

  • jeffe

    Sunshine give me a break. So large feed lots for beef are sustainable according to you. I don’t eat beef. I eat very little meat or eggs for that matter. As for small farms well they wont feed the needs for Burger King or people who want cheap hamburger meat 6 days a week.

    As for the large hog farms you mention I guess you don’t live near one, if you do I hope your not down wind. I don’t either thankfully but your ad hominem comment does not offer any real explanations as to why this is the best way to raise livestock. As for the Stonyfield comment well that’s a bit presumptuous as I don’t buy it.
    I never said they were interested in the little guy did I. I only made a statement that feed lot livestock concerns were unsustainable. It’s not about the costs it’s about the pollution and safety. The other story you mention about the small farmer who was arrested for running a child pornography ring from his home, well what’s your point? What does this particular persons perversions have to do with his farming practices?
    If the the owner of a slaughter house was a good church going individual who had deplorable work conditions in his or her plant does this make it all right? By your argument it seems that it does.

    http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp

    http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=68

  • jeffe

    One more thing, eating to much meat is bad for you.
    I’m not a vegetarian but I think as a nation we eat way to much meat. As a nation we have way to much fat, salt and sugar in our diets and as a result we have a health crisis with obesity in this country. It’s not a coincidence that this rise in the health problems of many Americans coincides with the rise of corn products, which is in everything, and fast food. Those of you who are advocating for factory farming and putting down smaller farms are missing this point. Factory farming is a direct result of fast food restaurants. The cost in years to come in health care for the diabetes epidemic now raging in this country will be huge. To deny this is blind and foolish, to make it a right left issue is even more absurd.

  • JustMe

    I raised chickens once. I agree the eggs are better.

  • JustMe

    98c  a dozen? What store was this?

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

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Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

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