MSA: After real dining hall solutions to problems

MSA is looking seriously at affordable cage-free egg options.

I would like to thank Ethan Root for his constructive criticism of Minnesota Student Association in his Dec. 1 letter to the editor “Student associations.” It is important that those of us on MSA hear dissenting perspectives such as his. He brings up several good points, and I will respond to them by discussing the recent initiative to move to cage-free eggs, an issue he also brought up.

Although we are discussing the cage-free egg initiative in a committee, we have not yet passed a resolution backing it. We are discussing it and working closely with University Dining Services to see if it is a realistic proposal.

Recently, Karen DeVet, operations director of UDS, talked with the Academics and Service Committee about cage-free eggs. Before the meeting, DeVet had looked into some of the options regarding cage-free eggs. Apparently, cage-free eggs are available through Aramark, alleviating the concern of vendor contract lock-in that Root brings up.

She also mentioned that cage-free eggs would increase the cost of an egg by only 6.5 cents. Although she did not know the total number of liquid and shell eggs that UDS uses, this cost, when calculated using the per capita egg consumption in the U.S., would be less than $6 a person per semester. This amount is less than a single meal purchased at UDS.

Furthermore, the actual cost might be much less. The number of eggs used in the calculation accounted for all the eggs a person eats, including those in baked goods. We would be asking UDS to switch only its liquid and shell eggs to cage-free, not premade products such as cookies or bread. Beyond this, the Humane Society of the United States also has expressed its willingness to help us find cheaper sources of cage-free eggs available to Aramark.?

Given this minimal increase in cost for much more humanely produced eggs, this seems like a reasonable transition for the University to make. Battery cages were found to be so inhumane by the European Union that they have banned them altogether. And it is not only Europeans who are concerned with the treatment of hens in battery cages. More than 70 colleges in?the U.S. already have switched from battery-cage eggs to cage-free eggs, and there is growing student support here for the University to make just such a switch, as can be seen in the recent news in coverage and opinions expressed the Daily.

As Root suggests, it is important for MSA to look for realistic solutions to issues that we are facing. However, in the case of cage-free eggs, we are doing just that. We have analyzed the problem, looked at the options and constructively discussed the issue with those in the administration who have power over this issue.

Donny Mansfield is a University student and a Minnesota Student Association member. Please send comments to [email protected]