Do you know where your eggs come from? Do you know if the laying hens are raised humanely or given proper nutrition? This is an important question to consider when purchasing eggs. Currently, there is a bird flu outbreak—the largest in United States history. To date, 47 million birds in 20 states have been infected and consequently killed. More than half of those birds hail from Iowa, the largest egg producer in the U.S. It’s likely you haven’t heard of the bird flu outbreak because it doesn’t affect humans, but it’s still important to know about because it is straining the egg supply chain. So, what does that mean for your omelet?
Depending on where you live, egg prices are up. In some parts of Iowa, the hardest hit state, the price for a dozen eggs has tripled. Many restaurants—especially those that specialize in breakfast—have also had to raise their prices. There could be many reasons for a menu price hike, but many of the farms affected by the bird flu are “breaker farms,” meaning that once the eggs are harvested, they crack them into large vats, making a “liquid egg.” They then sell the liquid egg to restaurants.
Will this affect small, boutique-style restaurants? It’s highly unlikely. These types of restaurants typically source their eggs from local farms, not the factory-raised hens in the Midwest. “It hasn’t really touched us,” says Nick Korbee, chef at the New York restaurant Egg Shop. “Eventually, when the rest of America is having to resort to local eggs, some of our local farming collectives will probably get snapped up by bigger supermarket chains. That will drive our price up, but as of now…I don’t think we’ll raise our menu prices.”
What can you do? Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do for the hens. Cramped living conditions and poor nutrition make it difficult to control the spread of disease in factory-run farms. However, your dollars speak! Purchasing your eggs from local, family-run farms like Chino Valley Ranchers tells big farms that you’re not okay with their practices. We have been in business for three generations and we take the health of our chickens seriously. Avoid the ramifications of the bird flu outbreak by purchasing our organic, humanely harvested eggs.