Occasionally we enjoy going out to breakfast with friends at our favorite restaurant. It's always good to be out fairly early in the morning to greet the day and have time to visit with friends.
As you might guess, the conversation can take many different directions.
When ordering their breakfast food, our group tends to like eggs, maybe a slice or two of bacon and toast or a muffin. Eggs are ordered cooked in different ways, depending on what each one of us enjoys. That's the best part of eggs, they can be enjoyed in so many forms.
One thing that doesn't come up in our conversation is how are the eggs produced. Do they come from farms where the hens are kept in cages or are free range? It isn't important to us either way. What is important is that we have choices and the eggs are fresh. If we don't want eggs and toast, we can order pancakes, oatmeal or something else.
Information from a recent study across the nation indicated 92 percent of all eggs consumers bought last year were from farms where the hens were in cages. Just 2 percent were from cage-free farms, 1 percent from free-range organic and percent were other specialty eggs.
Considerable difference was noted in the price of eggs from different systems. On April 30, the average for a dozen large size eggs from hens housed in modern cage farms was $1.10. Cage-free eggs were much higher at $2.99 a dozen and organic eggs cost $4.38.
Over in Europe, where cage operations have been forced out of business, eggs are much higher priced. They were $5.76 a dozen in Denmark, $4.89 in the United Kingdom and down to $2.79 in other parts of the Eurozone.
Again we like to have choices. If we are willing to pay the price, we can buy cage, cage- free or organic eggs.
What is disturbing is that the animal rights group want to take away our right of choice. Legislation that passed in California last year will essentially force cage-layer farms out of business. Since eggs California folk want for breakfast will either come from the much more expensive free-range farms or imported from other states, they will be more expensive.
Animal rights groups don't want you to know the implications of their proposals. They just want to make you think they are for the humane treatment of animals. A look at a recent HSUS income tax return shows that they have given less than 1 percent of their budget to local animal shelters.
Being able to make choices is important to all of us. When we go to our local, well-stocked grocery store, we enjoy all kinds of choices, more than most countries in the world. It would make most of us very unhappy if we were told we aren't smart enough to make good choices and we need some outside group to tell us what we can buy and eat.
Some families today cannot afford eggs that cost two or three times more than those from cage layer farms. The result is they don't buy them.
So when you decide to have a good meal at your favorite restaurant, think about the fact that you have choices. You can order a steak if your budget allows, then you have to decide how you want it cooked. Or if you prefer a vegetarian meal, you can usually find it. That, again, is your right. Don't let anyone take that away from you.
Remember also that down the road with more people in this country and the world, we will need today's modern, productive agriculture to feed our population.
Parker is an independent agricultural writer.