A women’s advocate is worried that a well-meaning Metro Vancouver motion to challenge the production of eggs on battery farms could eventually hurt vulnerable families. Hetty Alcuitas, a volunteer with Grassroots Women, said she sympathizes with the environmental and animal-rights arguments against caged chickens. But with battery eggs costing about $2 a dozen and organic free-range eggs costing between $5 and $6 a dozen, the impact of the proposed change goes beyond poultry.
“For some families who are struggling, eggs are a common staple that you can feed a lot of mouths without a lot of money,” she told the Straight. “This is not the best time to be putting these kinds of restrictions on affordable food.”
The motion, which comes to the Metro Vancouver board on Friday (February 27), encourages stores and restaurants to promote organic free-range eggs; makes Metro Vancouver caterers and operators use organic free-range eggs; and will result in letters to Victoria, Ottawa, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency opposing current practices “based on the inherent cruelty of confining egg-laying hens in battery cages”.
The chair of Metro Vancouver’s agriculture committee, Richmond councillor Harold Steves, told the Straight that the reason organic eggs are currently so expensive is that there are so few producers, so the feed is costly and hard to get. The motion doesn’t tell the government to ban battery cages, he noted.
“We’re adding our voice to the great debate going on across Canada regarding caged chickens,” he said. “Whatever they come up with in opposition to it, we’d be happy with.”¦We’re adding to the pressure to eventually ban chickens in cages.”
B.C. already has the most expensive battery eggs of any province in Canada, according to Agriculture Canada. On February 14, the producer price of B.C.’s grade A large table eggs was $1.74 per dozen. The cheapest were Ontario’s, at $1.58 a dozen.
Alcuitas added that she hopes the motion will include a provision for bringing down the price of organic free-range eggs.