Ryan Gosling writes open letter to Costco CEO about their egg suppliers

0715 GQ COVER_02

Don’t ask me, Ryan Gosling would never be MY choice for most stylish anything. His style is normcore/hipster and it does nothing for me. But GQ decided to give Ryan Gosling one of multiple covers to celebrate the twenty best-dressed men. Ryan ranks alongside Pharrell Williams, Brad Pitt, Kanye West, Bradley Cooper, Jeff Goldblum, Jared Leto, LeBron James, A$AP Rocky, Harry Styles, Daniel Craig, Cristiano Ronaldo, Russell Westbrook, John Mayer, Jaden Smith, David Beckham, Mark Ronson, Mario Balotelli, and Eddie Redmayne. Only half the list should stay. JADEN SMITH? Leto? B-Coop? Hell to the no. You can see GQ’s Best Dressed package here.

Meanwhile, did you know that Gosling feels strongly about eggs? He does. Gosling wrote an open letter to Costco’s CEO, encouraging Costco to adopt a policy of only buying and selling eggs that come from cage-free chickens.

Ryan Gosling is standing up for animal rights yet again with his latest open letter to Costco CEO Craig Jelinek. Less than two weeks after the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover investigation into the treatment of one of the chain’s largest egg suppliers, the hunky actor is demanding reform.

“I am writing today about the recent undercover investigation conducted by my friends at The Humane Society of the United States at a Costco egg supplier. Video footage revealed abhorrent cruelty including rows upon rows of birds confined in filth-laden cages with the mummified corpses of their cage-mates—eating, sleeping, defecating, and laying eggs on top of dead birds—and hens’ wings, legs, and necks trapped in the corroded wires of their battery cages,” Eva Mendes’ partner wrote.

“Furthermore, it is appalling that Costco has been selling these eggs with deceptive labeling on cartons featuring graphics of birds living out in a green pasture. You’re already eliminating cages for veal calves and pigs – don’t you feel that chickens also deserve the same mercy? So many corporations are meeting public demand for more humane products and transparency in the food chain. I sincerely hope that Costco will set plans now to go completely cage-free for its eggs.”

This is just the latest in Gosling’s countless attempts to shed a light on animal treatment within the food industry. Back in 2003, he panned KFC for their chicken’s living conditions, and in 2012 he teamed up with PETA to fight cruelty to cows on dairy farms, specifically a painful process called “dehorning” in which calves have their horns burned out of their heads. Then in 2013 he partnered up with the Farm Sanctuary and Humane Society International/Canada to help more than one million breeding pigs on Canadian farms.

[From E! News]

Sure. It would be great if Costco went cage-free. It would be great if more grocery chains – including Wal-Mart – went cage-free. From Gosling’s letter, it’s clear that the supplier is linked directly to Costco, but I would assume that other grocery chains probably have some bad situations with their suppliers as well. But Costco is a good target for now, mostly because they’re more upmarket than Wal-Mart. I also think Gosling believes that Costco will be more susceptible to pressure.

Full disclosure: Personally, I don’t have strong feelings about eggs because I never buy eggs or cook eggs for myself. But Gosling’s argument seems pretty logical and humane and I do think more people should pay attention to food sourcing and the treatment of farm animals.

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Photos courtesy of WENN, cover courtesy of GQ.

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102 Responses to “Ryan Gosling writes open letter to Costco CEO about their egg suppliers”

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  1. Kip says:

    Eggs are in a lot of things, so it applies even if you don’t eat eggs themselves. Most commercially made baked goods and some pasta will contain cheap eggs, usually from battery caged hens.

    • *North*Star* says:

      This is an important point that a lot of people (including myself) don’t always consider. Thank you for bringing it up.

    • bettyrose says:

      Thank you! Eggs are cheap and used extensively in packaged products. This concerns everyone who shops.

      • laura in LA says:

        Eggs-actly. They’re in everything.

        And given how any animal is raised affects the health, safety and quality of the food chain, I think RG was sending a message to all major stores and suppliers that this is what the public wants. It may seem like a small thing, but this is how change happens, step-by-step. So I applaud him for even taking just a moment of his time to do this.

        As a vegetarian who eats mostly vegan, I’ve never been much of an egg-eater anyway, but I’ve started cooking for my older dogs now, the $4 carton of organic, cage-free, pasture-raised egg whites from Whole Foods. And I’ll be damned if I’m not tempted to taste their breakfast every morning, they are that good.

        (Nothing but the best for my boys. Call me a crazy LA-er, but I do also believe in karma…)

      • Tara says:

        Eggzactly :) Also, I believe Ryan is writing CostCo because they had pledged to buy from only more humane suppliers … or something. At the very least, their suppliers aren’t supposed to grind up live baby (male) chicks. But one of their suppliers isn’t complying.

      • *North*Star* says:

        Laura

        Besides tasting better — organic, pasture raised, naturally fed chickens are WAY more nutritious. Crack open a cheap egg from a miserable factory farmed chicken and an egg from a chicken that’s been foraging outside likes it’s supposed to and compare. The yolks are significantly darker in the organic, truly free free-range chicken. The deeper the colour the more nutrients it contains.

        Better health is good for everyone involved. ☺️

      • qwerty says:

        @ Tara

        I don’t see how keeping the male chicks alive is making anything better. It;s a business, they;ll just find a way to profit from them some other way. Having seen what life is like for hens that lay eggs, I’d rather be ground up at 1 day old that live in hell for 18 months (at which point the hen is “spent” and sent to slautherhouse)

    • coco says:

      Completely agree, I don’t think the general stance that “I don’t care about this issue because it doesn’t directly affect me” is a good one. For example, “I don’t care about the childhood obesity epidemic in America because I don’t have kids” or “I don’t care about racism in America because I don’t have any [insert ethnic minority] friends” isn’t a responsible argument.

    • moomoo says:

      So true! Thanks for pointing this out and thanks to Ryan for publicizing this important issue.

      I stopped eating eggs 18 years ago when a nutrition professor who ate meat herself showed us a video on egg production (not hygienic and not well regulated by the USDA) and another video that showed hen living conditions.

      I eat mostly vegan now but do occasionally eat eggs from a local farm where I have seen how the hens live — they actually get to go out to pasture. Apparently egg-sellers can call the eggs “cage free” if they pen them up in an indoor barn. Pasture-raised is better for the chickens and probably better for the egg quality, IMO.

  2. cr says:

    They may be more susceptible to pressure not because they’re more upmarket, but because they’re considered the anti-Wal-Mart in terms of of how they’re perceived to conduct their business and in treating employees.

    • loud noises says:

      yeah exactly. they’re supposed to be one of the most ethical workplace environments to work in, so it’s not a far leap to think they’d be ethical in how they focus on their consumerism either. good on gosling.

  3. Casi says:

    But here’s the thing about cage-free: the chickens can be stuck in a overcrowded barn with inadequate access to water or fresh air and it’s still technically cage-free.

    Free-range hens who have access to organic pastures produce the best eggs. Preferably out of your own back yard. We live in a subdivision with no fences in the backyard, which is aesthetically nice but not good for raising chickens, so I buy from a farm down the road.

    • Snazzy says:

      I always check and only buy free range …
      But I am glad he is bringing this to light. As is said elsewhere here in this thread, the cages, the cramming of chickens into tiny spaces, all of it is horrid.

    • marie says:

      We’ve had chickens for 3 years and it’s the best decision we ever made. We have 1 chicken who never started laying, but she’s still our pet. We use dog and cat rules with our chickens. They’re pets, we got them until they die regardless of inconvenience or they don’t start laying. Nugget, tenders, soup and extra crispy are welcome to live to whatever is a ripe old chicken age at our house.

    • BW says:

      Agreed. Cage free only means that the chickens can see an area bigger than their cage and maybe get to run around it for an hour a day if the inspector is watching.

      Cage free. “I do not think it means what you think it means. ” — Inigo Montoya.

      • qwerty says:

        Cage free means the entire farm is a cage. Which is terrible as well, there’s a photographer on facebook called Tamara Kenneally and she has lots of pics of farm animals, she is particularly fond of hens… in her album “The proce of eggs” she has some pics of hens in both cage and free range farms. All of them look awful.

      • qwerty says:

        *the price

    • bluhare says:

      I agree. I used to volunteer at a sanctuary and shared my office with three rescues from a cage free facility at one point. You’d be sick to your stomach to see them. Not exactly the happy hens you see portrayed on the packaging. Not by a long shot.

      I buy eggs from a humane producer whose hens have access to pasture. The difference in the eggs is amazing. That’s the other thing they don’t tell you. Treat the hens properly and the eggs look different. They are yellow; bright yellow and I think they’re better in baking. They are also three times the price. But if you’d seen the hens I’ve seen you might pay it too.

      • Kiddo says:

        Nice on your volunteering :)

      • Lucrezia says:

        Huh, you learn something new every day.

        We had backyard chickens when I was young, and since I moved out I’ve always bought free-range eggs (just for ethical reasons). I had no idea the colour of the yolk differed according to farming style. I googled pics to see what you were talking about and yikes! If I’d cracked an egg and seen that pale yellow colour that is apparently the norm for caged eggs, I’d have assumed they were off or something.

      • *North*Star* says:

        Lucrezia

        Taste and colour are worlds apart. Check it out for yourself — it’s kinda mind boggling.

      • Solanaceae (Nighty) says:

        @Lucrezia, they’re tastier and it bright yellow- orangy.. My grandparents had several animals (hens,pigs, etc) and also chestnut , orange, olive and other trees, vinyards, oh and the strawberries.. gosh… So good…

    • littlestar says:

      What about eggs sold in stores labeled “free range”? Is that any different?

      • *North*Star* says:

        In every country the legal definition of labels varies. My suggestion to you is look
        up your governing body that regulates labing to see.

        Here in the US free-range is slightly misleading as it usually means they get a *tad* more space and freedom. Think of it as being in a prison, the general population (free range) vs solitary confinement (although the chickens are usually smushed together).

      • Kat says:

        The term “free range” is a way to capitalize on peoples’ empathy. The only requirement for eggs to be deemed free range is the absence of battery cages, but conditions frequently remain filthy, dark, and extremely confining. The worst aspect of this is the fact that all male hatchlings are disposed of in the most efficient and economical way (i.e. tossed into wood chippers or suffocated in plastic bags) as they’re of no value to the egg industry. It’s the heinous reality of mass production and “progress”.

      • Celebwatch says:

        What you really want is “pasture-raised, organic, non-GMO” eggs. Vital farms produces these at $6-$8/dozen for Whole Foods and similar grocers. They are expensive, no question, in comparison to other types of eggs. They are also the best tasting eggs you can find, and have the most nutrients. People need to decide if it’s worth spending extra money on your food as opposed to your wardrobe, car, etc.

      • qwerty says:

        http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/think-you-know-free-range-and-cage-free-chicken-think-again/
        “chickens who are labeled “free-range” are also subjected to painful industry practices such as debeaking, which involves searing off the sensitive tip of the chicken’s beak without pain-killers.”

        Saw it on video once… they have freaking machines to cut off those poor birds’ beaks without anesthesia.

      • Sparkly says:

        Honestly, getting them from a local farm is best. The egg quality is immediately visible (rich, dark yolks), and you can definitely taste it. With commercial eggs, pasture-raised is probably best. With farms, though, you can generally see how they live.

        Free range is NOT always best. We homestead (and sell eggs), and I originally free-ranged because I thought it was best. It’s really not. My flock was constantly attacked &/or decimated by predators. And, quite frankly, I homeschool my 3 kids, and I just got tired of chicken poo EVERYWHERE. Not just the yard (and too much fresh chicken poo *will* burn the grass), but our walk ways, vehicles, and porches. It was incredibly unsanitary. I couldn’t even lay out in the grass come spring, and that’s my favorite thing, nor could my kids run barefoot through the yard. We have a large coop with a decent pen now, and we have chicken tractors that we use to move them around the yard and yet still keep them contained and provide safety from chicken hawks (netting above, like a ceiling, is also important) and other predators.

        Basically, there are buzzwords for commercial enterprises that may or may not mean when they purport to mean. And then there are local farmers (even urban farmers, these days) who provide happy, sanitary, quality lives for their animals. Always buy local if you can! Better for health and taste, and also better for building community and supporting compassionate practices.

  4. Lama says:

    Kudos to him. Most factory egg farming is not humane, though I think we need to go beyond pressing for cage-free, as this can still mean that they’re crammed in an even bigger space with no ability to move about. Thankfully, I don’t eat eggs often enough that I can afford to buy free running or certified humane organic eggs, because, of course, the cost can be prohibitive for some.

    Anyway, I’m glad RG is using his fame to support this cause.

  5. Sixer says:

    I’m with Ryan. Factory farming of poultry both for eggs and meat is disgraceful.

    But I’m lucky. Here in the UK, free range eggs are literally double the price of supermarket budget line caged eggs. But for me, quite a few of the people in my allotment society (community garden schemes stateside? Not sure the equivalent) keep laying chickens on part of their plot. We have a healthy barter system going between ourselves and I have a polytunnel, so get veg earlier than others. So I have plenty of early veg to swap for eggs from happy chickens. I’ve hardly bought any eggs for a few years now. Not so easy if you’re skint and in the city.

    • Kiddo says:

      Agreed. I’m for Gosling on this.

    • Liz says:

      A lot of the supermarket chains only sell free range now Like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op and Marks & Spencer but if you want to buy organic you are looking at twice the price and free range only means the chickens are in massive hangers but not caged.

      Your barter scheme seems the far better choice.

    • Sixer says:

      Liz – yes. And I’m pretty sure that EU stocking/animal treatment regulations mean even the worst of our eggs aren’t as bad as the worst of US eggs. But they are still pretty bad and there’s still misleading of consumers with labels like barn eggs with the red tractor logo which are really still intensive eggs.

      I do worry about people on a low income though. What are they supposed to do if they don’t live rurally, like me? I just checked the Tesco website: 10 minimum standard eggs £1.00, 10 free range eggs £1.75, and 10 organic (actually decently treated chickens) eggs £3.00. That’s even worse than I thought.

      • *North*Star* says:

        It’s a terrible catch-22 that shouldn’t happen. People should be able to find food that isn’t full of toxins that doesn’t also break the bank.

      • qwerty says:

        They can go vegan and save money. You don’t need eggs to be healthy. Vegan foods are some of the cheapest out there (rice and bananas for example)

    • bluhare says:

      I’m looking for a local farm. I had one at one point but then their hens went on strike and quit laying. Then I moved. I’m big on supporting local business anyway, and there you can actually see the hens pecking around!

  6. Sassback says:

    Like Ryan Gosling shops at Costco?
    The solution here is to go to basically anywhere else and get your free-range eggs. I’m anti-bulk stores in general, at least in the concept of food, they just promote unhealthy habits. There is zero reason why your family of five needs that much anything, even paper towels. Every person I know who goes to a BJs, Costco, etc., hits up about six different grocery stores on the regular and we’re talking people who have 1 kid. What is going on with people now a days where we are constantly going grocery shopping? I hit up Trader Joe’s or Fairway for my family like once a week or every two weeks and that’s it. I have all my organics at a decent price and I’m done.

    • swack says:

      Most people don’t plan for more than one or two days in advance therefore don’t shop for more than two days worth of food. I go once a week and sometimes every other week. When my children were still at home I told them I was shopping on Sat and if they needed something or wanted something in particular from the grocery store they had better tell me or they wouldn’t get it. If I stopped at the store during the week it was mostly because I ran out of something I wasn’t anticipating to run out of. My one daughter buys two weeks at a time. She plans out menus and makes her list from that.

    • Yoohoo says:

      Why do you care how many paper towels someone buys? I buy a big pack b/c then I don’t have to buy them again for two months.

    • Jen43 says:

      We are a family of 5. Toilet paper, napkins, potatoes, milk, meats, salad mix, waffles are some of the things I buy at Costco. People actually do need certain things in bulk, especially if the price is good. Costco actually carries a lot of organic products. I am with you on the unhealthy stuff, though. Nobody needs large quantities of junk food, but that is really not my business.

    • sienna says:

      I grocery shop pretty much every day. It is a habit I picked up from living in the UK and having a bar sized fridge. I hate fresh food waste and would rather pick it up and eat it than have it stewing in the crisper for 2 weeks. Costco is where we hit up for pantry stuff & laundry detergent. I tend to split it with my mom and while we don’t go often you save a lot on stuff like that.

      • lisa2 says:

        I’m starting to do that too.. Shop for 2 days. I am so embarrassed and ashamed of the things I have thrown away. Wasteful is not the word. So I’m shopping for 2 days and not for the week. I feel better about myself and am saving money to boot.

      • *North*Star* says:

        I started to compost so I feel a bit better about things that need to be thrown out. It’s also made me get better about buying smaller amounts of perishables so I’m not “feeding” my compost pile. Lol

      • moomoo says:

        In addition to trying to buy only what I think I’ll use, my produce waste dropped exponentially when I started making veggie smoothies. Anything you can eat raw (including beets!) can go in a smoothie. Add a lemon lightly peeled with a knife and it makes anything taste pretty good. And if the taste is not great I don’t care as I drink through a glass smoothie straw from glassdharma so I don’t taste it as much.

        You can also freeze a lot of produce (even tomatoes if you core them first — great for later use in cooked dishes where you would need stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce/paste). Always felt guilty about letting meat spoil but not a problem now as I have not eaten meat in many years.

    • Anna says:

      In order to cut costs, the hubby and I have dropped down to grocery shopping once a month. We still make small weekly stops for milk, eggs, and other perishable items. Our monthly trips are to Costco, our small weekly stops are to the local grocer or farmer’s market. I can tell you that we’ve substantially cut back on our spending by shopping in bulk when possible. It’s also less stressful–I tend to work 10-12 hour long days, so preparing food at home is enough of a burden without having to make extra trips to get the ingredients. While Costco does have a lot of preservative-laden, prepackaged food, our local grocery store does, too. You just have to be aware of what you’re buying.

  7. Yoohoo says:

    I think this is one of those topics that makes people feel better about themselves like they are doing their part to improve things without making any impacts to their actual lives. I doubt very much that everyone saying they only buy free range organic eggs do not also buy free range organic chicken breasts which run $9 a pound. I’d also bet there isn’t organic grass fed beef or organic pork in their refrigerators either.

    Not everyone has the luxury of buying only organic food. Eggs are a cheap source of protein for low income families and a dozen eggs can be stretched out for a few meals. Raising thr prices on them so people who exclusively shop at Trader Joe’s can feel even better about themselves is hardly solving problems.

    • Sixer says:

      I take your point, even though there isn’t a dodgy piece of food in my personal refrigerator! It’s a vicious circle arising from inequality, though, isn’t it? Poor workers need cheap food; cheap food requires poorly treated animals and poorly paid workers; the poorly paid workers need cheap food and animals suffer and the environment is degraded; round and round in a horrible circle jerk.

    • Narek says:

      It’s not about raising prices to feel better about ourselves it’s to ensure that animals aren’t suffering in inhumane conditions to meet an unrealistic bottom line.
      I’m not wealthy but I think it’s worth it to spend $6.95 on a dozen eggs from free range chickens- and I know that the labeling can be deceiving. It can take ten minutes of reading labels to figure out which are the most ethically produced eggs, and even then, we aren’t always sure.
      There’s a lot of bs about organically produced food.

    • Kitten says:

      Why does it matter what someone’s motivations are? If someone is buying free-range eggs, it’s still a step in the right direction. It’s still better than buying eggs that were produced inhumanely .

      People are so odd with that “all or nothing” approach.

      • Sixer says:

        I don’t think individuals doing their best (whether it’s baby steps or wholesale lifestyle commitment) should come in for criticism either, Kitten.

        But, when people are calling for a particular food type to be altogether banned and that might mean that food type is entirely off the menu for low income people, we have to be honest about it, don’t we? And the system sucks if we have to choose between decent diets for the poor and the welfare of animals. Not as though we don’t all already know the system sucks.

        The school of which I’m a lay governor runs a programme on cheap healthy eating for the kids who are off to university – because they are going to be pretty broke for three years. The first year I participated was a massive eye opener for me. You simply cannot eat cheaply AND healthily AND ethically here. Something has to give. By eating cheaply and healthily, you end up abusing someone/thing in the food chain – animals, badly paid workers, and even if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you will have to abuse the environment if you want to eat cheaply.

        Even given all that, though, I agree that any step any individual takes, no matter how small, is A Good Thing.

      • Tara says:

        Totally agree Kitten.

      • Yoohoo says:

        How is it a step in the right direction when those exact same people are then eating caged, tortured, pumped so full of hormones to grow huge breast they can’t stand up, chickens? Do only the egg laying chickens matter but the ones raised for meat are tough cookies?

        And as many other people have mentioned, free range doesn’t mean they’re roaming around a beautiful farm over looking the hills. It means 5,000 chickens are crammed in a barn in quarters so tight they still can’t move.

      • Kitten says:

        Maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

        Cage-Free > Inhumane Factory Egg Farming

        Aside from the sweeping assumptions you’re making about how ethical people’s diets are (I ONLY eat grass-fed organic poultry and beef myself but thanks for assuming), buying cage-free eggs instead of buying eggs that were produced in inhuman factories is an improvement.

        I’m really not sure how you could dispute that basic fact, unless your argument is that free range isn’t better…which would be weird.

        Regardless of how much time the chickens have outside, cage-free at least ensures they’re not crammed into battery cages and it’s healthier for animal AND consumer as the chicken is not wallowing in fecal dust all day.

        I must say that I find your negativity to be very strange.

    • bluhare says:

      I like feeling better about myself yoohoo. I am vegetarian (lacto ovo as long as I can buy humanely raised eggs and cheese). It’s hard to do and I am not perfect. I live in an area where there are not a lot of options close by. I do have some leather, although I try like hell not to buy it. And when I do I buy vintage or resales. I don’t want to be part of the market for it on the front end but if I have to I’ll buy on the back end. And I absolutely don’t buy anything that was raised just for vanity — shoes, bags, or clothing — whether front or back end.

      And I pay $6.59 for a dozen eggs. I’m not wealthy, and I’d rather pay less, but I’ve seen what those cheaper eggs look like and I refuse to support a business that would treat a living being that way.

      • Alice says:

        I am almost the same, bluhare. Vegetarian, working my way to vegan. The only clothing I buy new is underwear, otherwise, it’s vintage or resale. I’m certainly not perfect, but I feel better avoiding filling my stomach with anything that requires the slaughter of animals.

    • *North*Star* says:

      Yoohoo

      Sorry, most people I know that do buy free range eggs do it as a greater part of buying more eco-friendly products — from food to furnishings, to clothing. It generally starts with food and grows from there. I’ve honestly not met anyone that only buys one organic thing and nothing else. It’s usually a philosophy they feel strongly about.

      • Sixer says:

        North Star – while only speaking for myself, I concur. I’ve been on the ethical path for almost ten years now. I started with food and sweated clothes but that’s now morphed into energy usage (I have solar panels), water usage (I have a grey water system), preferring local manufacturers and suppliers, avoiding companies that pay their staff minimum wage, getting all my banking and savings out of the global banking system and into mutuals – the list goes on and on and on!

        I’ve found it an incredibly positive process – no self-immolating martyrdom or feeling superior to people who don’t do it or anything; I’ve been having fun. But it’s not something anyone can achieve overnight. I’m a decade in and I’ve still got miles to go! The current project/research is what to do about home technology. Dreadful supply chain and hardly any ethical options.

  8. serena says:

    Good, this only makes me like him more! I totally agree with him btw, enough with animals in cages.. it’s just horrible.

  9. sofia says:

    People, research about what the egg industry does to the male chicks. With cage or no cage the truth is that by buying eggs we are still encouraging cruelty:/

    • ncboudicca says:

      Sofia, I know that’s true, but we didn’t get to moon without first inventing a steam engine and then internal combustion engines and so on and so forth. Any step forward is still a plus.

      • sofia says:

        I understand what you say, but most people don’t know what we know. The cages issue can give the idea that if that’s solved then there is no problem, that’s far from the truth.

  10. Tara says:

    Ok. I officially love Ryan Gosling. Over and out.

  11. Algernon says:

    I’m really not trying to be facetious, but the issues surrounding food production seem very naive to me. I do believe that we can be more considerate and humane in the way we treat the animals we consume for food, but I also believe that there over three hundred million people to feed in the US alone. World wide, we have to feed over seven billion people. And people are starving, so even with all the technological advances, etc, we still haven’t figured out how to do it. On a small scale, neighborhood level, it seems possible to be much more ethical about food, shopping at farmer’s markets or joining a co-op or going to higher-end stores where you have a better variety of organic/humane food. But all of that depends on having access to markets, co-ops, etc, having the money to pay the increased food prices, and the time to comb through all the options to better understand what you’re buying. Not everyone has those luxuries, and the way the food industry is right now, in the US at least, organic/humane food absoltuely is a luxury.

    I guess my question is, is it really possible to produce all the eggs we need with free-range chickens? There still has to be something available for lower income families who, I’m sorry, cannot pay $7 for a dozen eggs. (For comparison, the average cost of eggs in 2014 was $2.21/dozen.) I believe the goal should be working toward humane food production, but I don’t think that’s ever going to be ideal, given how many people we need to feed. This isn’t an issue that exists in a vaccuum, it exists alongside issues of poverty and how difficult it can be for lower income families to eat healthy. Yes, it would be great if CostCo had only free range eggs available, but there are probably millions of families that depend on low-cost bulk eggs that will last a few weeks.

    • *North*Star* says:

      The better question is, can the world sustain factory farms*? We pay the price in many intangible ways that FAR exceed the price we pay at a grocery store. And it’s a myth that modern farming produces higher yields. Several renegade agricultural scientists have come forward about this. Factory farming isn’t about feeding people, it’s about making profits for big companies.

      *the answer is becoming quite clear, it cannot. Factory farms are horrendous and doing an enormous amount of harm to the planet, animals, and we humans.

      • Tara says:

        North Star: your comment rocks my world, in this, the best of all possible moderations.

      • *North*Star* says:

        Oh thank you! I often get teased by people I know about my “goofy” beliefs.

      • littlestar says:

        NorthStar, EXACTLY: the world cannot keep sustaining factory farming long term. My dad is a farmer, still very old school in how he does things, his cattle spend most of their lives out in pasture. They are so much healthier than cattle that are force fed corn (tangent: please try and avoid corn fed cattle! Cattle are not able to digest corn properly AND corn needs copious amounts of water to grow). I realize growing up on a farm I got to see how things are really done, but it still bothers me how most people don’t inform themselves on how their food is raised/grown!

        Also, factory farming is horrible for farmers – they make no money at it and many live in poverty in the States (look at chicken farmers especially) – they are basically at the mercy of the corporations who control them and the laws governing farm production! We need to start empowering farmers again. Farmers who have a say in how their animals and crops are grown usually end up producing the best food!

      • *North*Star* says:

        litlestar

        Exactly, cows cannot digest corn (or other grains), and feeding them corn/grains also raises the omega-6′s in the meat. Those high and out of balance omega-6′s leads to increased inflammation in humans (inflammation is considered to be a silent factor in multiple illnesses). It’s a total lose-lose.

        Have you seen Food Inc? It’s a great and shows what/how they manage cows and their inability to digest corn. Mind you, it’s pretty graphic.

      • Algernon says:

        I don’t think it’s necessarily about volume of production, so much as what engineering can do to make crops more disease-resistant, so there’s less yield loss year over year, and developing strains of grains/produce that can be grown in harsher, low-water environments so that more arid areas, which are often the worst in terms of starvation, can grow better crops. But I think all of that stuff is GMOs, which everyone is so against. I don’t pretend to understand all the science, but it seems like we may need GMOs, at least in some ways, in order to make food available to everyone.

        I’m not defending factory farming, I think we can and should be more humane, and sustainability ought to be the goal. But I also think that food can’t cost a small fortune, and right now, trying to “eat right” costs a small fortune. I shop every couple weeks, buying food for two, and regularly spend $200+, just for two people. I can’t imagine trying to feed a family of four at Whole Foods. when we talk about agri-business and the food industry, we need to also talk about poverty. The two issues have to be dealt with simultaneously. If we truly want to change how we raise/consume food, then we need to talk about government assistance, via grants or tax breaks, for small farmers to encuorage them to convert to more sustainable farming methods (some of this is already in place, actually), and we need to talk about industry regulation for both the humane treatment of animals, and also preventing price gouging and other unfair practices, and we probably ought to get into what cutting welfare and subsistence programs is doing to make it harder for low income families to eat well. We can have all these nice things, but our taxes are probably going to crazy for a while.

      • Sixer says:

        Algernon

        I agree with everything you say. Food poverty matters just as much as animal welfare does. As we were discussing on here not so long ago with that whole foodstamp challenge thing.

        The problem is that when people fully understand the scale of it all and the interconnected relationships of it all, they throw up their hands in despair and don’t even try. I think THAT is why people whose only foray into ethical eating is to buy cruelty-free eggs shouldn’t be castigated. At least they’re not giving up entirely. We need positive solutions for people, not berating of them and terrifying them.

        Also, everyone – no matter their economic situation – needs educating properly. We all have to take some responsibility about our food culture. We in the wealthy countries need to at least halve our meat consumption. We need to start introducing vegan days into our food weeks. We need to cut our food miles by not eating so much that is imported. Etc, etc, etc.

      • Algernon says:

        @ Sixer

        I want to know more about this, but you’re right, it’s such a big issue and it is intimidating and does seem insurmountable. I try to do my part by being conscientious in my choices and what I’m supporting with my shopping dollars, but at the same time, I try not to judge the person reaching for the bargain eggs/whatever. You never know a person’s circumstances, and not everyone who’s struggling financially *looks* like they’re struggling financially. (Volunteer at a food bank and have your concept of what poverty looks like completely destroyed.)

      • *North*Star* says:

        Algernon

        BUT they aren’t actually making better crops at all. And worst of all, the animals & humans meant to eat it are developing wicked illnesses as a result. GMOs issues are *just* starting to become known and it’s not pretty. Our bodies are not recognising these modified foods so it causes reactions and illnesses.

        As for the poor, I want to see ALL farming practices raised in order to be a benefit to the entire planet — not just the rich. We as a nation (I’m American) are paying staggering costs for illnesses that were rare just a century ago and modern factory farming is at the root of many of them.

        Another example is the massive bee hive collapse. We might lose one of our best pollinators and that will really cripple our food production. So modern factory farming practices have and will continue to negatively affects us for decades to come.

      • Sixer says:

        Algernon, North Star

        Algernon is right: it is intimidating. North Star is right: the whole system damages everyone. The solution is such – if you’ll pardon the topical pun! – a chicken and egg thing. Do you put the system and the planet right first, then all socioeconomic classes can benefit? Or do you put the people right first, then trust them to save the planet (and the animals from cruelty)?

        Algernon – I’d just say read around and educate yourself, then look at it like this: every dollar you spend the right way is a dollar not spent the wrong way. Start with one dollar in every hundred and work your way up. Like I said above, it’s not a miserable process at all. It actually feels incredibly empowering. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Every step makes things incrementally better.

        And you know, choose the priorities that seem right to you. My personal hierarchy would go: people, environment, animals. But someone living the vegan lifestyle where consent is everything, would put animals first. That’s fine. There’s no perfect solution; just people giving it the best go they can.

  12. BP says:

    NORTH STAR …your comment nails it on the head! Factory farming is bad for our health, animals and the planet.

  13. *North*Star* says:

    There are so many “costs” of factory farming that I’m often stumped and overwhelmed by the enormity of it.

    One aspect of factory farming is many herbicides and pesticides are also anti-bacterial. So when animals consume products that are loaded with this (including us) — we are inadvertently creating bacteria that are resistant to modern medicine. Scientists are now terrified that one little itty bitty bacteria will create a new type of plague that will wipeout large percentages of animals, which includes us. Factory farming might kill us, in unimaginable numbers, from a variety of ways.

    So are those “cheap” eggs really worth it? Factory farms are also changing our ecosystem and not for the better. Still worth the “low” prices? There’s a growing body of literature that points to numerous health issues that are a result of a “typical American diet”. You might not feel the affects but someone close to you probably does. Still worth it?

    And vegans/vegetarians are also vulnerable because of the changing ecosystems.

    Food for thought:

    http://foodintegritynow.org/2014/05/08/dr-thierry-vrain-former-gmo-scientist-speaks/

    • Algernon says:

      I don’t think it is, no, but we can’t ignore that a lot of people, literal millions of people, can’t afford anything else. They can only afford the “cheap” eggs. It’s not enough to say “free the chickens!” we have to also make it so that *everyone* can afford healthful food.

      ETA: now I’m terrified of a plague. Why did I click on that link?!

      • *North*Star* says:

        Absolutely. I think we need to pressure our lawmakers to make organic, truly free range, ethically raised, sustainable farming a practice for all farmers and the food they grow/raise, accessible to everyone.

    • Sixer says:

      North Star – I recommended a book about food ethics to someone here the other day. Was it you? If so, I apologise, but I’ll recommend it again just in case it wasn’t. I think you’d like it. It’s The Ethics of What We Eat by Pete Singer: http://www.amazon.com/Ethics-What-We-Eat-Choices/dp/1594866872/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8.

      • *North*Star* says:

        Nope Sixer, it wasn’t me. Thanks for the recommendation! ☺️

      • Sofia says:

        It was me:D

      • Sixer says:

        Ha. Sorry, Sofia, to have forgotten it was you. North Star – the edition I read was quite heavily edited for the UK market, but I should imagine the original is much the same. Well worth it for a non-judgmental, positive approach to changing food habits for the better, and a good and patient unraveling of the various issues.

    • vauvert says:

      I applaud both Gosling and Northstar for the stance and the intelligent comments. There have been several threads on CB on healthy food and the cost of actually eating not only a healthy diet but one that comes from humanely raised animals (and crops)… and I hear the affordability argument every time. I don’t agree with that argument at all, and here’s why.

      First of all, change has to come from somewhere; if the wealthy or well to do and celebrities can afford to take a stand and put their dollars where their hearts are, great! Leading by example is a good thing. Eventually as pressure increases to make healthier choices more affordable for everyone, it will happen. (I see it in Canada with everything, including a major grocery chain banning the plastic microbeads in cosmetics – finally, after years of activism. Slowly but surely things can change).

      Secondly, the increasingly unhealthy diet in developed countries that people have adopted in the last few decades as a result of higher incomes, more two working parent (or single parent) families dynamics drove the need for so much of the fast food and pre-packaged meals industry. But the companies involved could have made sane, healthy(er) choices and they chose not to for the sake of profits. Take a look at the fast food chains’ and Walmart’s financial reports and it’s easy to see why; they chose profits at the expense of everything else. You can run a business ethically but you must choose to do that. You don’t need to supersize every drink with cheap corn sucrose. You don’t need to use hydrogenated palm oil (bad for both humans and the disappearing rain forest being cut to plant more palm trees).

      Thirdly, before discussing how low income families can’t afford healthy food: a bag of chips (zero nutrition) at my grocery store is Cad$3.99. I can buy a bag of organic potatoes for that amount that will last me at least two-three weeks depending on what I cook. I can buy a 2L carton of organic milk for Cad$6.99 or a six pack of pop for $4.99. And I promise you, a lot of the small budget low income families spend on food is not spent wisely and goes to unhealthy choices. I am not playing a blame game – I think there is a very serious reason why that happens – a complete lack of education in regards to budgeting, nutrition and actual cooking. That is increasingly, I think, a huge problem and unless it is solved kids and young adults continue to go out into the world and their own homes without a clue on how to plan for, shop for and cook meals, never mind where the food came from – as far as they are concerned, it’s from a box!

      Another reason is that in the last few decades there has been a tremendous shift in how we perceive the value of food versus everything else that is mostly purchased out of disposable income – people want to go buy “new” fashions at cheap discount chains every month, they want to have the newest electronic toys, they spend what I consider an inordinate amount on things like cable TV, movies, music – but they balk at paying higher prices for food. If you look historically at how people used to live before the seventies – the size of their homes, closets, amount of possessions – it was a lot less “stuff”. And they paid more, proportionately, of their income, for food, which mostly came raw/unprepared and was cooked at home. The rates of obesity and diabetes were far lower, the farmers could make a living and I don’t think the overall rates of starvation were different. (Mind you, we should separate North America and Europe from the rest of the world, although as far as I can tell, more kids go to school hungry in the morning today than did in the fifties.)

      So the whole discussion around food and what it costs is a lot more complex than the argument “we have to feed 7 billion people”. Locally, we don’t. We also don’t need a 12 oz steak per person, or beef every day, or buying more than we can eat and throwing rotting food – which apparently is a huge issue, with amounts up to 20% of all sold food in North America going to waste.

      So yay for Gosling and other people who shine a light on how the food we eat is grown. It affects us all – whether because we eat it or because the way it is produced harms our environment or both.

      • Algernon says:

        The only thing that is complicated about “we have to feed 7 billion people”, which is the point I brought up, is that not all areas of the globe are equally capable of producing food. Just in the US, by far most of the produce consumed comes from California, followed by Florida, and then, I think, Texas. Most of the grain comes from Kansas/Nebraska. We need to try and reduce how far food is shipped, because long-haul transport is both costly and bad from an emissions standpoint, but also because the food has to be flash-frozen and other weird things so that it stays fresh. But then there is the legitimate issue that not all areas of the US can grow enough grain to sustain their region, some of that is going to have to be shipped from the “breadbasket” area of the country. That’s what I mean, that there are real logistical concerns when you’re trying to produce enough food for this many people. There are things we can do, yes, of course. But there is still going to be a supply/demand issue.

        I wish I could find the study that first made me think of this, because it was by an economist who focused on agrarian issues, and his point was that the only reason our population (in the US) is sustainable is because of large-scale farming processes. There is an actual cutoff threshold, that if we go below it, people will start starving. He was trying to balance the needs of the populace against environmental issues, and the wall he ran into is that at a certain point, specific crops can’t be grown in big enough yields in each region to wholly eliminate large-scale farming. It’s probably going to end up being a combination of some crops being “mass produced” while others can be shifted to local, “home grown” yields.

      • *North*Star* says:

        Thank you. For both your support and for bringing up yet another complex part of the problem.

        As I said above — the enormity of the issue is mind blowing. And scary. Really scary.

  14. Justaposter says:

    If only people cared about people as much as Costco chickens.

    • *North*Star* says:

      People do though.

      Some people concentrate on animal welfare, others on humanitarian causes, while still others focus in on the environment. Since they are all interconnected, one affects the other.

      • Sofia says:

        I actually truly believe that the violence and cruelty we accept towards animals harms us as humans. The lack of compassion we show to animals with the justification of needing them as food allows us to do pretty medieval things to them. And we look away because it’s “complicated”. We do the same with people and issues about them that seem pretty complex. There’s this dissociation between theory and what we really do and SO MANY TIMES we are completely unaware of it on a conscious level. We separate ourselves from problems that are not knocking at our doors, we close our hearts as a way to protect us. Whatever we do about people or animals will require effort and I’m not sure people in general are into that beyond pretty words or even into looking behind the myths that are sold to us so nothing really changes.

    • laura in LA says:

      If only people like Justaposter realized that caring about Costco chicken and eggs IS caring about people…

      I mean, what do you think the end result is here, and who do you think consumes this stuff?!

    • bluhare says:

      You make it sound like they’re mutually exclusive. Why?

  15. Jayna says:

    Big round of applause for Ryan. This is disturbing

  16. paranormalgirl says:

    There is nothing better than a fresh egg from a happy chicken. Seriously. I only buy locally sourced organically fed cage free eggs, usually from farm stands or farmer’s markets. When we’re in the Bahamas, our community has its own chickens, so we always have have fresh eggs from happy chickens!

  17. Size Does Matter says:

    Anybody else remember when we gossiped about Ryan for his acting, looks, or love life? He’s now the human embodiment of normcore.

  18. rizzo says:

    Good for him but there is something else that should be addressed involving animal cruelty. Please post an article about the Yulin Dog meat festival. If it has to involve a celeb, gisele bundchen is backing the movement to stop it. We need to raise awareness to this awful festival. The cats and dogs are tortured in front of crowds. Most of them are kidnapped from their homes and killed for this festival. Many are also killed with their collars on. The more people that get involved, the better chance we have to stop it. Look into it. It’s awful, I know, but knowledge is power. Stop the yulin dog meat festival!

  19. Tessa says:

    Well he is a baby goose