Emergencies and eggs

Many thanks to those who responded to last week’s article about emergency supplies.

C. E .P. from Hamilton, but previously Christchurch, has some advice about preparing for an emergency. “When stocking your emergency food supplies, where possible, include the types of foods the household would normally eat. Obviously any food is better than no food, but there is little point in just stocking up on tinned sardines and baked beans, for example, if you would not normally eat and enjoy these foods. Under stress you may lose your appetite and so you will want foods that have some appeal, so also remember to include some ‘comfort food’. We went through the Christchurch earthquakes, and aftershocks, and we were very fortunate to have little damage to our house, and I was glad we did not need to dip into all the ‘worthy’ foods I had stock piled. At one point a local organised the distribution of a little pack per household containing, amongst other things, some chocolate bars and hot chocolate sachets. I’ll never forget the surprise and gratitude I felt, as when you are tired, stressed and feeling under pressure, a little bit of ‘comfort food’ – and kind thoughtful gestures – go a long way. So, by all means stockpile a selection of ‘worthy’ foods in your emergency supplies, but don’t forget that either due to expiry dates, or a genuine emergency, you’ll at some point be eating those supplies.”

C.E.P. makes an excellent point – nothing like a ‘war ration’ of chocolate to lift the spirits (and potato chips, biscuits, sweets, candy floss… just kidding about the candy floss!).

Talking about junk foods, while ruminating on a lettuce and chicken wrap at a fast food outlet the other day, we thought how good it was to see healthy options being added to the menu. It just goes to show that businesses do respond to consumer demand – especially when customers vote via their cash flow card!

This week there was a story on TVNZ about colony eggs. It seems “colony eggs” was a new concept to the presenters and everyone they featured on the clip, but in 2014 Campbell Live did extensive coverage on this very issue.

The story behind the headlines is that conventional battery cages are being phased out by 2022, so egg producers are getting ahead of the game by replacing battery cages with colony cages – hence “colony” eggs.

In the future eggs will be labelled in one of three ways, depending on how they are produced: Colony, Barn, or Free Range.

Like battery hens, colony hens live in cages, they just happen to be bigger. Each cage is 3.2 metres long and houses 60 birds. This works out to be 13 hens per square metre.

Barn farming is where the birds are housed inside and range around freely. There would typically be about 7 hens per square metre of floor space.

Free range is barn farming but with the hens free to move outside – and sit on their deck chairs with their sun glasses on. Chicken counting mathematicians in white coats work this out to be 9 hens per square metre inside and one hen per square metre outside.

At the end of the day, consumers will make a choice between their pocket and their conscience. Price wise, supermarket battery hen eggs are likely to cost about 37c each ($4.40 a dozen), colony eggs about 50 cents ($6 a dozen), while free range are likely to be around 67 cents ($8 a dozen). These prices are indicative only and do vary considerably by brand and outlet.

We suspect there will be a slow shifting of attitude towards free range, especially in the more well-to-do ‘burbs. We are also pleased to report there is a shifting of attitude towards back-yard oily rag style chicken farming. We think the best eggs are those produced from your own chickens. Not only are the eggs super fresh, the hens are a continual source of amusement – and manure for the oily rag garden. Each hen has its own life story to tell, with all the drama of reality TV. It’s not all plain sailing though – there are times when you will need to talk frankly to your chickens to remind them that life balance includes work, not only leisure!