Going cage-free sets example

This success at the University is a wonderful example of what an effective college campaign can achieve.

It was truly exciting to read last Thursday’s front-page article, “U switches to cage-free,” that demonstrates how the University has taken the input from thousands of students seriously and has moved away from supporting factory farms that confine hens in abusive battery cages.

Although the article contained a few vague sentences on the living conditions on battery-cage factory farms, there is much more to the story.

On modern factory farms, upwards of 11 hens are crammed in a metal wire cage the size of a filing drawer. Needless to say, these hens can hardly move around, stretch their wings and cannot engage in even the most basic natural behaviors. Just a quick visit to EggIndustry.com will give us all a better understanding of the importance of this issue.

And while cage-free operations also have some welfare concerns, the hens are at least able to walk, stand on solid ground and have access to nests. The University’s move away from battery eggs will greatly improve the lives of thousands of hens each year.

It is also important that the Daily recognize the admirable efforts of Compassionate Action for Animals for its instrumental role in making this phenomenal change happen – engaging thousands of people to get active through an effective campaign.

A number of student committees voiced their support for cage-free eggs including Graduate and Professionals Student Association, the Council of Graduate Students and even UDS’s very own Student Advisory Board on the basis of the cruelty to battery-caged hens. Also, the Daily’s editorial board came out with a strongly worded endorsement of the campaign.

While chickens and other farm animals receive virtually no legal protection in the United States, the European Union has already put in a ban on barren battery cages set for 2012, and four U.S. city councils have recently passed resolutions condemning the practice of confining hens in battery cages.

In the restaurant world, gourmet celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has vowed not to use eggs from caged hens in any of his operations, as have the dining centers for Google and AOL. Big names like Ben & Jerry’s and even Burger King are phasing out battery eggs from their products. A growing number of food service providers have now partially or completely eliminated their use of battery eggs, most notably Bon Appetit Management Company, Guckenheimer, and Chartwells – even several Sodexho accounts in Minnesota and now Aramark at the University of Minnesota.

This success at the University is a reflection of growing consumer concern for animal welfare and a wonderful example of what an effective college campaign can achieve. The University of Minnesota is now the largest school in the country to have made this switch, among more than 150 other schools – something to really take pride in. This news from the University has proven that bettering the lives of egg-laying hens is not only a vital issue to students here in Minnesota but across the country. As students it is important that we continue to rise up and urge all schools to stop supporting the egregious abuse of confining hens in battery cages.

Let’s hope that other Minnesota colleges and Aramark-operated dining services around the country will follow our lead.

Miki Dezaki is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]