The last time you hit the grocery store, did the exorbitant price of eggs make your eyes pop out of their sockets? You're not the only one—bakeries, fast-food chains, and restaurants are also feeling the pain of the avian flu outbreak that has been decimating entire flocks of chickens since late last year.
In the prevalent commercial farms of the Midwest, millions of birds are kept together in close quarters, which allowed the outbreak to spread like wildfire. That's not a good scene.
Many of these casualties are egg-laying hens, whose deaths have caused the price of eggs to spike. And it's predicted prices will continue to rise for at least six months—the amount of time experts predict it will take farmers to replenish their flocks, according to National Public Radio. The price of a dozen eggs has now tripled to nearly $3 in some areas of the Midwest.
But it's not just eggs in those recognizable cartons. Liquid eggs, which sold in huge buckets and used by commercial bakers and restaurants to make everything from omelettes to banana bread, have doubled in price during the last month. This comes at a time when protein-centered diets are at a fever pitch, and fast food chains and restaurants are attempting to cash in on the trend.
Truth is, it's really our own fault. Corporations are more than happy to perpetuate less-than-ideal farming practices if consumers reward them with their dollars. As this outbreak shows, mass production affects consumers on a mass scale, both financially, and health-wise.
But there is an alternative. Check out your local farmer's market for eggs laid by pasture-raised hens. You'll be supporting the local economy, of course, but more importantly, you're paying for peace of mind. A happy chicken is also a healthy one—and that's a win all around.
Photo credit: Pietro Izzo via Flickr