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Egg on Whose Face?

Egg on Whose Face?

by Brendon Bosworth / 08.10.2009

The life of a battery hen is pure misery. At just a day old the hapless creature is debeaked – its beak shoved against a scalding hot machine blade (watch video footage of debeaking here). This is akin to having your nose and lips sliced off with a panga that’s been lying in hot coals for an hour or so. At the same time, its toes are cut off so that it won’t scratch the backs of the pathetic beasts stuffed in the cage beneath it. Incarcerated in a cage with less than an A4 page worth of space to call its own, crammed up against its pitiful brethren, it serves its 12 months feeding from a trough, pushing out eggs, and likely wondering why the hell it landed up in the agricultural equivalent of Belsen. The air is stale, the reek of ammonia emanating from the piles of shit festering below the cages overpowering. It chokes the respiratory system. Drained of calcium to form egg shells, many of the wretched hens develop a severe from of osteoporosis – caged layer fatigue – leaving them with rickety bones that crumble and crack. At the end of it all, when the reproductive system has been drained to its last ovum, the featherless, tortured shell of a bird is crammed into a truck and taken to a cull farm alongside a broken mass of equally traumatized animals, then flogged off to buyers who sell ‘em in the townships.

Initially, I was going to follow this vignette with the type of big-business-profit-before-ethics-corporate bashing Mahala loves to dish out. I’m still going to do that, but give you a slightly toned down version. This Saturday is world egg day (yip, believe it). Pick ‘n Pay is organizing one massive fry-up at the V&A Waterfront in a bid to earn a Guinness World Record for the biggest omelette ever made. Over 60 000 eggs, 500 kg of cheese, 200 kg of tomatoes and a 14 meter wide pan will be used to produce the behemoth, predicted to weigh in at 3000 kg. Strange, the things people strive to achieve. What an occasion for PnP to show its commitment to supporting humane farming methods. You’d think so. But originally the retail giant was going to use battery eggs from Humpty Dumpty. Not a good move for PnP who, on its website, bills itself as “a company [who] behaves instinctively according to an entrenched value system and truly believe[s] that we have a positive impact on the lives of all South Africans.” Not the winged, egg-laying South Africans then?

Egg on Whose Face?_Toes Off

Yesterday morning I phoned Louise van der Merwe, the South African representative of animal rights group Compassion in World Farming and editor of Animal Voice, who had sent out a press release asking for consumers to boycott the event. I was looking to add juice to this story, but instead came away with news that placated me somewhat. After considerable uproar by PnP customers, and the efforts of Compassion in World Farming (SA), Ackerman’s store has opted to use free-range eggs for this mammoth breakfast. Ironically, the eggs will come from the same farm. Windmeul eggs, who owns Humpty Dumpty, also packs free-range eggs for PnP. The two sets of hens inhabiting completely different worlds, within spitting distance of each other. As to the destiny of the omelette, which I, the self-righteous, was preparing to get worked up about… ‘I bet they’re not even going to give it to people starving on the streets; they’ll probably just waste it all’… Foodbank will be dishing it out to those who need it. PnP and HD will also make a cash donation to this organization.

Ok, so Pick n Pay have vindicated themselves this time round and are doing something stellar by hooking up with Foodbank. Check social conscience. And this episode is a small victory for the consumer. But there are two problems here. One – Pnp changed their tune only once they realized their actions might cause a very public furore because many of their customers didn’t take kindly to the idea of ‘blood eggs’ going into that omelette. Wouldn’t it be swell if they came out with the free-range idea in the first place? All by themselves. Two – battery farming is psychopathic and, in my humble opinion, needs to stop. Commercial free-range farming might not equate to the birds living in the Garden of Eden, but at least they’re not having their beaks sliced off and their toes removed ala Josef Mengel style.

*Images courtesy Compassion in World Farming (SA).

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. Jeff says:

    Like in Europe, consumers should harass supermarkets that sell these ‘blood eggs’ until they stop selling them. I once visited one of these battery farms, one that was supposwed to be a model example of how it should be done, with proper ventilation, conveyor belts for shit and egss etc – but it was still shocking.

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  2. Torquemada says:

    The more you look, the more you’ll see. Whether it’s the abhorrent treatment of battery hens, depletion of wild ocean stocks of fish, crustaceans, cetaceans or invertebrates (if you don’t know what they are, you’re a posterboy for our fucked up education system. Google them. Then sit in the corner with a Dunce hat.) or the sweat shop conditions favoured by your favourite brand (and that includes Nike, Nokia, Diesel, Levi’s, Gucci, D&G and Quiksilver and any other brand that you care to mention, including the Fast Moving Consumer Goods made by Unilever), the bottom line is that YOUR MONEY FUCKS SHIT UP IF YOU BUY WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES.

    As for localising the concept of conscious consumerism, the piss-weak excuse that Africans have bigger things to worry about doesn’t wash: ignoring these issues will continue to ensure that Africans remain entrenched in a vicious cycle of purchasing foreign goods for their brand cache, whilst bemoaning the decimation of local industry. We only have ourselves to blame, despite what that fat fuck Julius Malema and the paragon of evil Mugabe have to say on the issue.

    Wake the fuck up, people. While you chase some fucked-up glorified conspicuous consumption in pursuit of the dream of the Cristal & Maybach illusion, your country and continent are being fucked over.

    Oh, and please do the planet a favour – stop breeding. This is not a request but an instruction, and it is directed at every single person on the planet. All the ills of the world are due to overpopulation. Do some homework, it’s the truth.

    You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. All of you who ignore the state of the planet and go on to pop out screaming brats which you can drive around in SUV are the problem, and when I am King you will be first against the wall.

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  3. Phalafala says:

    While there is certainly truth in all you say Torquemada, your hysterical tone is more likely to alienate people who would like to do good, but are stuck in the vice-like grip of debt and all the other trappings of the advance-capitalist system and global military industrial complex. Most people can see the wood for the trees, but they can’t see the way out of their entrenched and destructive behaviour patterns.

    We need a new paradigm, not a reaction.

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  4. snapper says:

    torquemada
    do us all a favour and take a deep breath. you are on the right track, but that mode of delivery turns anyone past adolesence off.
    any while you are at it take a look at this article by George Monbiot on how the focus on over-population is just a mechanism to distract us from the real problem – over consumption.
    http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-09-29-stop-blaming-the-poor-yachters-are-burning-planet
    I don’t have kids, and don’t want any, but maybe my friend’s cherished lightie will grow up to perfect the electric car, or solar power or ….

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  5. Torquemada says:

    Pllease, enough with the simpering liberals bleating calming phrases. That kinda talk will get nobody anywhere, no more than the joke that are ‘climate talks’ Talks about talks don’t bring about change – action brings change. Sitting on your ass hoping for a better world isn’t gonna do anyone – apart from the cunts that are raping our planet every single minute of every single day – any good. In a war dynamic, you would be considered capitulators.

    Paradigms? Are you for fucking real? Are you seriously going to get academic about this when physical, tangible – not intellectual – solutions are required? Are you going to discuss the fire, even up until it burns your fucking sweatshop sneakers off your pork sausage toesies, or are you going to put the fire out? I can’t deny that a solar car or a geothermal airconditioner won’t make a bad situation better if applied on a grand scale, but ask yourself – how much time do you think we have before a bad situation is irreparably advanced to the worst case scenario? Not long. And do you honestly expect the same companies and people who created the situation we are in – whether environmental, agricultural, industrial or social – to rescue us?

    The only ones who can turn the world around are us. We only have ourselves to blame if nothing is done.

    Which is why I am filled with righteous indignation that so few – including those who discuss it – actually get off their asses instead of gazing at their goddamn navels in despair.

    The time is now, and we are the people. Get to it.

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  6. RomeFiddler says:

    Nice one Torquemada, totally with you. Too bad if the attitude pisses people off. It’s come to that. People need to be forced to change. The time for hoping that people will change has past, they haven’t. It’s time to shock, time to fuck with people, time to make people take a good hard look at what the people who are fucking with them are doing…..it’s simply a different direction to take after the rather obvious conclusion that appealing to peoples’ logic with words has failed.

    The population question is one that is never raised on any serious platforms either…never ceases to amaze me…it’s taboo, off-limits.

    The Monbiot article is bullshit. There is no question that over-consumption is a problem and the over-population issue is in noway used to try to deflect attention away from that. The over-population problem is a very, very valid issue….those have-nots aspire to be haves and so over-consumption is perpetuated. While I agree with alot of what Monbiot has to say about climate change, that is his focus, climate change. Sustainably, over-population is problem and he makes no effort to address that point…simply ignores it. It’s laughable that he he quotes Nature magazine in saying that human population worldwide will probably peak at 10 billion. We have a hardcore population reduction coming, voluntarily or involuntarily.

    People who do nothing are fucking with my future, and now the time has come to fuck with people…

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  7. Milo says:

    Torquemada may be hysterical but he is right. And no amount of sensible discourse has made any difference to our uber consumption or blind adherence to destroying ourselves. Everyone should google derek jensen\’s endgame for a very good, academic and rightfully angry analysis

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  8. Conscious Consumer says:

    TO ALL CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS – PLEASE would you sign the 2 BATTERY EGG PETITIONS that were launched in South Africa on World Egg Day – at http://www.activist.co.za

    The first is addressed to all Supermarkets, the Department of Agriculture and the SA Poultry Association – calling for them to STOP selling and using battery eggs.
    http://www.activist.co.za/campaigns/2009/ethicaleggs.php

    Linked to that is one specifically for Woolworths customers – to Woolworths Top Management – asking them to please back up their various signs and statements, and STOP using battery eggs in their foods.
    http://www.activist.co.za/campaigns/2009/woolworths.php

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  9. tara says:

    “may eternal lights shine apon those chickens”

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  10. Hellfire says:

    Hey Torquemada, please help an ignoramus like me get off my ass by giving us some clearer idea of what it is you’re doing to save the world.

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  11. Torquemada says:

    Why, thank you for asking.

    Growing my own food. (And yes, I live in a city. If you have any land – and by land, I don’t mean you have to own it (I don’t), I mean you simply have to take half an hour out of your day to engage with it in order to make it productive. Hell, even if you have no land, you have walls. Vertical gardening, container gardening, roof gardening – these are all options.)
    Not eating meat. Eating only sustainably-harvested fish (in case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve fished the oceans empty. See http://www.wwfsassi.co.za for sustainable seafood options)
    Not purchasing ‘brands’ on the basis of fashion or lifestyle but rather on the basis of their necessity and durability, aka ‘not believing the hype’.
    Selecting products that I do buy with carbon footprint in mind.
    Avoiding putting money in the pockets of faceless multinational corporations which do a fine line in greenwashing but in fact continue to fuck shit up.
    Telling others how to do the same.

    All of these things cost little or nothing. All of them make a difference.

    If this sounds too ascetic for you, you are part of The Problem. If not, please take the time to consider what it is you can do to become part of The Solution. It’s becoming a matter of life and death.

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  12. Andy says:

    Now that Torquemada is a fine, concise and well argued response… In fact I think it should bud into a mahala article. If you’re interested drop me a line andy@mahala.co.za

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  13. Hellfire says:

    Yeah, I do all of the above my boy, and very good for you, but it hardly justifies your manic self-righteous rant. I say we buy some tools and balaklavas and start tearing shit down!

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  14. anabora says:

    i am mr anabora i wathan egga

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