In the U.S., we’ve got bird flu problems. Because of an outbreak of avian flu, factory farms have killed thousands of their chickens, losing the eggs those chickens would’ve supplied as well. As generally happens with this kind of thing, low supply has jacked up prices, meaning we may see eggs going for nearly double what they normally do in grocery stores.
The good news for us as Localists is that it’s a great time to try local, organic or cage-free eggs (if we haven’t already), because the prices are now about consistent with the normally cheaper grocery store eggs. Buying eggs from farmers (or from neighbors and friends, which is where mine come from — thanks, Jill, Kristin and Joshua) has a lot of advantages:
- The eggs usually taste a lot better — really, they do!
- Local eggs are generally better for us.
- Chickens who live outside of factories more ethically raised — factory farming in the U.S. is a pretty nasty business, and even those of us who eat animals probably don’t want chickens living their entire lives in unrelenting pain.
- It’s fun to talk to people about their chickens — Kristin and Joshua even include a little note with their eggs explaining which ones came from which chickens and sharing a little about each chicken’s personality.
- Local eggs usually come in fun colors — Yes, I consider this a good reason. You might not. I don’t care!
- We’re supporting our local economy with every local egg purchase.
It’s worth noting that we wouldn’t even face shortages like this one (that’s likely to have much more far-reaching effects than the price of a carton of eggs, since most all restaurants and baked goods also use eggs) if we bought more from local farms in the first place: When production is spread among hundreds of different farms, losing supply from one or two of them isn’t such a big deal. But when production is concentrated into a few factories, a disease outbreak has huge economic (and dietary) consequences for the whole nation.
With prices now the same, there’s no good reason not to at least give local eggs a shot. You can pick them up at pretty much any farmer’s market, and I’ve seen local eggs at locally owned Alabama grocery stores like Western and Organic Harvest, and even semi-local (franchised) Piggly Wiggly.
Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.