The Food and Drug Administration officials have said the recall stands at 550 million eggs, which originated at two factory farms in Iowa. A team of investigators is still trying to figure out what caused the contamination. An estimated 1,300 people have been made sick and the illness can be life-threatening, especially for those with weakened immune systems.
Eggs can be contaminated in two ways. Hens with infected ovaries can contaminate eggs before they’re laid, and the bacteria can penetrate the shell when a laid egg is exposed to fecal material.
The recall is bound to be good for sales of organic eggs, as well as for the organic and locavore movements in general. Anecdotal reports from farmers’ markets across the country suggest a spike in interest in eggs and other food from small farms as a direct result of the publicity surrounding the recall. And it’s sure to draw more people to the already popular backyard chicken movement.
Buying eggs directly from a farmer, or even growing your own is not a total guarantee that you will avoid contamination and illness. But it’s a good bet that chickens and their eggs (as well as other animal products) will be healthier and safer when they have regular exposure to the outdoors, eat naturally, aren’t cooped up in cages on top of one another, and not dosed with the antibiotics and vaccinations that industrial raised hens require.
We have been publishing articles for years in Natural Life Magazine about the problems with intensive factory farming – including the potential for the spread of diseases like this one, the resulting over-use of antibiotics, and the cruelty involved with caging animals.
But we like to provide positive information for our readers about how to live naturally. So here are a couple of articles from our archives about the positive aspects of keeping chickens – aside from the benefits of fresh, disease-free eggs.