Is Happiness Organic to Chickens?

Food miles. Pasture to table. Organic. Buy local. Free range. Grass fed. Certified humane. Pasture-raised. Sustainable table… I admit it. I never thought about ANY of this stuff until I saw the movie “Food, Inc.” a few years ago (another documentary I can happily blame on Chris and my niece, Farrah). And since that time? I can’t really look at food — vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish, beef, pork, even water, dammit, without thinking about where it comes from, and yes, what it’s gone through. I know, it’s a little anthropomorphic, but the nurturer in me takes me there every time. Every. Single. Time.

You would think this approach to food would have hit me in my religious teens, when, on a “pioneer adventure” with a church group pulling handcarts in the mountains for four days and nights to better understand our Mormon heritage, we had to kill, pluck, and cook a turkey as part of the experience. It was pretty rough, killing something. Gutting something. Plucking something. Cooking something. And then eating that something. It was no longer USDA-approved and packaged. It was LDS-dead by me, for me. But that brutal moment faded with the novelty of the trip, and I soon went back to grabbing food from the shelf in the grocery store, accepting and expecting that someone, somewhere, was making sure that whatever I grabbed was up to snuff.

Happy Chickens on Vital Farms

Fast forward to now, and I find myself celebrating the fact that the chickens laying MY eggs are not only cage-free, but from family farms where the pasture land is “…USDA Certified Organic, with a minimum of three years of no chemical input. Hens must be USDA Certified Organic, and never given antibiotics or growth hormones. Supplemental feed must be Certified Organic and vegetarian, and hens must be moved on to fresh pasture regularly.” And yeah, I like the fact that the farmers insert little newsletters in their egg cartons reminding me that  “the girls spend their days outdoor in fresh air,” and “the ladies exhibit natural behaviors and have a bit of choice about how they spend their days.” Anthropomorphic? Maybe. But does it make me feel good? Absolutely. And I’ll be damned if I don’t think the hens feel the same.


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