Target: John Mackey, co-Founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
Goal: Stop misleading customers into buying eggs that come from factory farms.
Food labels are often confusing, and may even be intentionally misleading when attempting to attract consumers – this is largely the case with “cage-free” eggs. What this label actually means is that hens “can move freely within the building/hen house, and have unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.” It promises nothing, however, in the way of space requirements, access to the outdoors, and prohibiting beak-cutting practices. Other labels do better: “pasture-raised,” indicates that hens are able to roam freely outdoors, and forage in grass for a natural diet. The “Certified Humane Raised and Handled” seal also represents that farms have met the standards of Humane Farm Animal Care.
Whole Foods Market proclaims proudly on their website that their stores sell only cage-free eggs, even going so far as to say that “cage-free eggs are from laying hens that move around freely, exercise and scratch about instead of being confined in a cage.” There isn’t much truth in this statement, since hens that fit the bill of “cage-free” may be kept in high-density indoor facilities, with little room for exercise and no grass for scratching. Whole Foods’ own 365 brand organic cage-free eggs have in fact been found to come from confined, industrial operations, with a mix of natural and artificial light used to keep hens on a high-yield laying schedule. The hens are fed organic feed, but there isn’t much that’s natural about this farming system.
Sign the petition to urge Whole Foods, a supposed leader in sustainability, to acknowledge the meaninglessness of the “cage-free” label and supply only eggs that come from truly humane and eco-conscious farms. Instead of boasting over a misleading label, Whole Foods should step up and champion pasture-raised and Certified Humane eggs.
Dear Mr. Mackey,
Your store has a reputation for providing healthy, natural, and sustainable products, with standards that people can trust. However, your “cage-free” eggs may not be trustworthy. Although your website alleges that these eggs come from hens that “move around freely, exercise and scratch about instead of being confined in a cage,” the realities of “cage-free” may be no better than high-density factory farms. The label does not specify any space requirements, nor does it necessitate access to the outdoors. “Cage-free” eggs, such as the ones sold under Whole Foods’ own private 365 brand, more often than not come from confined industrial operations.
Please stop championing this label, which misleads consumers who want to support humane farming practices. Instead, your store should provide only “pasture-raised” eggs, from places where farm practices are known and transparent, and eggs bearing the Certified Humane seal of approval. If Whole Foods is truly committed to setting the bar for ethics and quality in the grocery world, then you should go beyond “cage-free” eggs.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: gsconsultit