When you're shopping for eggs, do you look at the labels and wonder about the welfare of the hens? For example, The Mother Fitness blog examined the differences, while One Mom's World toured a modern egg farm. In thinking about the chickens who lay those eggs, which housing system does the best job of caring for the chickens?
Given that the vast majority of us are entrusting someone else to grow/raise our food, it's common to want to know who is producing it and what methods are used to ensure it is being done in a manner that meets our preferences. Based on an inquiry from http://www.fooddialogues.com/, we sought out the help of Dr. Dan Thomson, Kansas State University, and Dr. Peter Davies, University of Minnesota, to better understand how farmers care for their animals. In a nutshell, we learned that what matters most isn't the size of the farm, but the management practices that farmers use, to ensure good animal care.
At the beginning of 2012, the world population exceeded 7 billion people and is projected to increase to over 9 billion people by 2050. That means, to feed this fast-growing population, we need to figure out how to double our food production in the 38 years that remain between now and then. Thinking a bit more specific, and looking just at the United States' ability to produce food for U.S. residents, we received a question from http://www.fooddialogues.com/ and enlisted Dr. Tom Tomich from the University of California, Davis.
Last September, Best Food Facts asked Dr. Robert Paarlberg to respond to a question, Can Organic Farming Feed the World? Dr. Paarlberg is the Betty Freyhof Johnson Class of 1944 Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Since then, two blog posts - 6 Reasons Organics Can Feed the World and Industrial Agriculture Cannot Feed The World - have said otherwise. To follow up, we again asked Dr. Paarlberg to respond.
Merriam-Webster defines technology as, "A manner of accomplishing a task especially using processes, methods, or knowledge." We're used to technology with the latest mobile phones, music players and cars, for example, but what about technology in food production? We received a question from www.FoodDialogues.com asking about technology in food.
Recently, Best Food Facts received a question from Maddee asking, "What is the hormone level (estrogen) in beef compared to that of other animal protein products? With that, how does an animal that has been implanted with synthetic hormones (estrogen) excrete those hormones?”
To answer Maddee's question, Best Food Facts contacted Dr. Ann Macrina from Penn State.
When asked whether there is a correlation between the size of a farm and whether it sustainably produces food, food experts say it all comes down to management.
We received this inquiry from Best Food Facts reader Kathleen:
“Can anything be done on how we raise our chickens? The breasts are huge. Way too big. Then they put some solution in them which leaks out white goo while they’re cooking. On top, they have no taste. We can’t afford to buy Bell and Evens. There’s got to be a better way.”
With all the buzz over questions about whether antibiotics fed to animals raised for food cause human antibiotic resistance, it seems apparent that this issue is at the forefront of consumer concerns. As well, we received the questions, “Why are antibiotics fed to livestock inside CAFOs or feedlots? Is this dangerous to humans?” from http://www.fooddialogues.com/. To address the topic, and as a follow up to our previous posts on the subject, we asked experts Dr. Peter Davies and Dr. H. Scott Hurd to respond.
As the year winds down, we'd like to thank all of our readers for taking time to learn more about our food system. We appreciate your comments and questions! We'd also like to thank our food system experts for providing their thoughts and expertise throughout the year.
We all want to do our part to help save the planet, right? Since farm animals create carbon emissions, will eating less meat create a cleaner environment?
Dr. Darrin Karcher and Dr. Scott Beyer wrap up the final post in our three week hen housing series by discussing the webcam of JS West's enriched colony barn, as well as their final thoughts on hen housing and the future of egg production.
Dr. Darrin Karcher and Dr. Scott Beyer discuss behaviors of egg laying hens as well as current production practices. This is the second in a three-week series.
Dr. Darrin Karcher and Dr. Patricia Hester define some common terms found on egg cartons at the grocery store - as well as the advantages and disadvantages to the housing systems for hens laying those eggs.