I Eat Eggs Laid by Caged Chickens

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men. These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence (Col.2:20-23).

People who refuse to worship the God of the Bible are inevitably pagans and idolaters in some form. It’s only natural. As Chesterton said a century ago,

When people reject God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

We’ve seen this recently in Australia, first with chickens, then with dogs; actually greyhounds, whose racing days were over. It’s paganism. As Paul explained,

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Ro.1:25).

In a free market, people can choose what they want. With eggs, there are choices of size, and source: caged or free-range. Free-range chickens require more labour and land on the part of the grower, but there is a proportion of consumers who are happy to pay extra for “free-range eggs.”

Perhaps “free range” chickens are more healthy; they can go outside, walk and flap around, and enjoy fresh air, sunshine and grass to eat. That sounds good. I think it would be better than being stuck in a cage, and they would not be standing permanently on mesh, which I know is hard on their feet. But being in a cage means they don’t stand around in their excrement. Perhaps free-range eggs are better. But how can you measure this?

The Bible does say, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal…” (Prov.12:10). Anyone’s concern for the welfare of chickens is legitimate, but chicken farmers are concerned for their welfare too. If they weren’t, they’d be out of business, fast. It’s a competitive business.

Australian free-range eggs retail for about 50-100% more than caged eggs. Could my family afford to eat free-range eggs? With four adults in the house, we eat about five dozen eggs a week. We probably could, but we buy eggs from caged chickens.

Why?  I like cheap.

Think of the poor person, for whom setting aside the necessary money for eggs each week is a struggle. The price of eggs is very important to him. For him, cheap is very important, and I’m on the side of the poor man, when it comes to price. If he wants caged eggs, and can’t afford the free range eggs, that’s how it is. Consider this verse:

…He [God] does not forget the cry of the afflicted (Ps.9:12).

I say, “Think of the poor person. Let the free market determine the outcome with eggs.”

Should there be laws requiring free-range eggs? Now this will get messy, very messy. This subject gets emotionally charged, tax-payer funded bureaucrats have a field day, the price of eggs goes up, the free market goes out the door, and the poor suffer. A commodity the poor consider essential is now harder to purchase.

The most important factor of this list above, is this:

When the free market has gone out the door, the poor suffer.

But you thought this was about suffering chickens in cages? No, not now. In the free market, wealthier people may be able to afford free range eggs, if that’s what they want. In a free market, they’ll choose, and the poor will get what they want, too. To my mind, that’s the simplest and best solution to this controversy, because impositions will not help. “…Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10).

Conclusion:

When governments fool around with the free market, it’s not just uneconomic, foolhardy and hurtful to many, it’s also unchristian. It always messes up people’s lives. This applies to everything, including the care of chickens. But when people can choose freely, they’ll get what they want. Is that what you’d like?

…the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever (Ps.9:18).