Organic Egg Farm Accused of Factory Farm Conditions
Petaluma Egg Farm is a top producer for Organic Valley label
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2011 8:12 AM CDT
Chickens poke their heads out of cages, but not at Petaluma Egg Farm.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

(Newser) – Organic eggs: The phrase brings to mind chickens roaming in a pasture, foraging for food, and scratching the ground. But at California's Petaluma Egg Farm, which provides eggs under the Organic Valley label, hens are confined to screened porches with a roof and a floor. Technically, the eggs meet the organic standards' requirement of allowing hens outdoor access, but a watchdog group says the farm is misleading consumers.

Organic Valley, the largest name-brand organic egg marketer in the country, is a farmer-owned cooperative that sells organic products from 1,617 farms nationwide. Most of its eggs come from family-scale farms, but Petaluma Eggs, which joined the co-op partially to fill a growing desire for organic eggs in California, has been described by Michael Pollan as industrial-scale agribusiness simply trying to look like a family-scale farm. A watchdog group has filed a legal complaint with the USDA calling for a formal investigation, and an advisory panel is considering a change to the USDA's organic standards that would clarify that enclosed spaces don't count as "outdoor access," thus officially putting Petaluma Eggs in noncompliance, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Apr 23, 2011 12:36 PM CDT
I'm not surprised. The organic chicken farms I toured while an ecology student were not even close to what most people would picture when thinking "organic free-range". If you can, I highly recommend trying to find a local source for your eggs (or get chickens if you are allowed to in your area). I had no idea what I was missing until we got a few hens when I was younger--store eggs are pathetic compared to actually FRESH eggs, not ones that have been sitting in a warehouse for weeks on end, both in color and taste!
Apr 21, 2011 9:21 AM CDT
I believe most organic products are packaging only. I remember working at a store where we put organic stickers onto fruit taken from the same crate as the rest. The price was marked up, and people felt good about eating healthier. If you really want safe food you must grow it yourself, or get if from someone you trust.
Apr 20, 2011 5:35 PM CDT
But are the eggs any good or not?