Chicken Quarters Barely Better

The Egg Man did indeed cometh to Santa Barbara, as part of a statewide tour to celebrate the implementation of Prop. 2, passed in 2008 and meant to make a start toward more humane treatment of animals used for food production. Let’s face it: battery cages for laying hens, as well as veal crates and gestation crates for pregnant pigs, are all examples of the extent to which we will inflict cruelty on animals in the interest of the almighty dollar. Only regulation seems able to prevent this, and Prop. 2 is really just a start, since it increases the required space for hens by 75 percent, or up from an 8-x-10-inch piece of paper to, well, about a legal pad size. But it’s a step in the right direction.

The fact is, Americans eat way more protein than we need, yet we complain about every penny increase in the cost of food. Do low-income people need access to affordable food? Absolutely. Is it okay to subject 30-million-plus laying hens to a life of nonstop suffering to reduce the cost of a dozen eggs by 12 cents? Surely not.

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