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If you’ve been shopping in your local grocery store lately, you may have noticed one area is conspicuously absent—the egg shelves.
Whether you’re a fan of the hard-boiled, the scramble, the omelet, or the fried, you may be out of luck if eggs were your go-to breakfast, as egg shortages are sweeping the nation.
But you may have wondered what’s behind these $8+ per dozen prices?
Did chickens go on strike?
Unfortunately, it’s a bit sadder than that, as an avian flu outbreak that started last summer in the Midwest has led to a loss of 57 million chickens.
After entire flocks have to be culled if even one hen is sick, it takes time (4-5 months) for healthy hens to reach their peak egg-laying capacity.
However, it’s not all about the bird flu—the nationwide egg shortages are also caused by increasing costs of fuel, feed, and packaging (yeah, that whole inflation thing).
Plus, some states (like California) implemented cage-free laws last year, requiring all eggs sold in the Golden State to come from hens living in cage-free barns, which drove prices up.
While this is a good step in the right direction for animal welfare, and cage-free is definitely better than caged, we still have a ways to go, as cage-free hens still live inside barns and may have less than 1 square foot to their name.
Free the chickens
Conversely, the best of the best when it comes to store-bought chicken eggs is “pasture-raised,” which means all of the Chicken Littles and Hen-riettas get to roam outside all day long, eating grass, bugs, worms, and everything that they are intended to eat.
By the way, pasture-raised eggs are also healthier, containing more omega-3 fats, vitamin D, vitamin E, and beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A) than hens eating traditional corn-and-soy feed.
For now, if you’re a die-hard egg-lover, you might have to bite the bullet and pay double or triple your regular price or do what many across the nation are doing—get your very own egg-laying backyard chicken.