From 2015, all eggs in California will be sunny side up – at least for the chickens.
State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a new law that makes California a cage-free state for chickens by 2015. The bill, which was backed by the Humane Society of the United States, will mean that all shell (whole) eggs sold in California must come from hens that can stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure.
This is a huge win for chickens in the United States. Free-range eggs are the norm in Europe and in fact, the European Union has banned battery cages from 2012 onward. But in the U.S. and Canada, a whopping 98 percent of eggs come from battery hens, according to the book The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. The life of a battery hen is no life at all – Nobel Prize winner Dr Konrad Lorenz describes it as “torture”.
Hopefully given the size of California, with around 40 million citizens, this new law could galvanize other states into action. It might even shame McDonald’s into doing the right thing – the chain earlier this year rejected a proposal to buy a mere five percent of its eggs from cage-free sources.
Whether you like your eggs scrambled or poached, this can only be good news. I for one always buy free-range eggs at home but I’ll feel so much better ordering egg dishes on a restaurant menu once this law is in place. And even if you are vegan, or simply don’t care for eggs, it’s still good news for the chickens. Time for a collective squawk of joy?