How'd you like those eggs? Cage-free, or not at all?

Regarding the Oct. 27 article "One woman's quest to enjoy her dinner without guilt": After I mustered up the courage to inform myself about the reality of factory-farmed animals, I gradually became a vegetarian. I have no intention of going back to eating meat, but I am very grateful to read about the growing number of family farms committed to raising animals in the most humane and environmentally friendly way. We may dispute the rights or wrongs of eating animals, but the quest for minimizing cruelty can be a unified goal. We can all find a way to contribute to this end.
Lauren Horwitz
New York

The article presents the argument that domestic animals "have evolved for human use," and that, no longer having "a biological place outside of that," they may be conscientiously consumed. However, chickens, cows, and other farmed animals have not "evolved" to be eaten. People have deliberately manipulated these animals for food production traits at the expense of animal well-being. Whatever unfitness they show is the result of human intervention.
Dr. Karen Davis
Machipongo, Va.
President, United Poultry Concerns

In response to the Oct. 27 article " 'Cage-free' eggs: not all they're cracked up to be?": Consumers who want to be sure their eggs come from chickens that are raised in healthy, humane environments should look for the "Certified Humane Raised & Handled" label.

This label, unveiled in May 2003 by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), assures consumers that a meat, poultry, egg, or dairy product has been produced according to HFAC's precise standards for humane farm animal treatment. Animals must receive a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones and must be raised with shelter, resting areas, and space sufficient to support natural behavior. We certify producers only after on-site inspections by our independent auditors. More than 20 US and Canadian companies now use the "Certified Humane" label.

Our animal care standards were developed by respected animal scientists and veterinarians with the welfare of the animals first and foremost.
Adele Douglass
Herndon, Va.
Executive Director,

Humane Farm Animal Care

Thanks for the two great articles alerting us to "ethical eating" considerations. I want to suggest another great source on the same topic. I just read "The Meat You Eat," by Ken Midkiff, which discusses sustainable farming as opposed to the horrible results of hog lots, chicken farms, and beef feed lots with massive manure problems that result in dead streams, polluted ground water, and unsafe and unhealthy conditions for the animals that are raised in them. Mr. Midkiff isn't asking everyone to become a vegetarian so much as he is asking people to consciously seek local farmers who raise their meat sustainably. A list in the back of the book helps you find such farmers in your own state.
Rachel Crandell
Town & Country, Mo.

When meat is no longer an option, we begin looking elsewhere and are rewarded with creative dishes of legumes, fruits, grains, and the like, many of which match and exceed the pleasures of the table we thought we were giving up.

Just as a poet can't settle for any old word when creating a masterpiece, so in food choice neither should we. When we expand our horizons above the fare of meat, we find that our appetite is amply satisfied with succulent, flavorful food - and compassion to boot.
Jane C. Marshall
Southern Shores, N.C.

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