Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

Barry Soper: The chicken and the egg

One company has allegedly been passing off caged eggs as free range. Photo / File
One company has allegedly been passing off caged eggs as free range. Photo / File

As you crack that egg into the pan to spit away with the bacon, spare a thought for the hen who produced it and the porker who grew fat to accompany the rind.

If the hen who laid the egg was confined in a cage you should have been made aware of it as you bought the last dozen at the supermarket. Unfortunately it's not so obvious about the porker, whether it'd spent its life running around indoors in ever diminishing circles.

We've all seen the documentaries from the pigsties and the appalling conditions some of them are raised in. Fortunately sow crates, thanks in large part to The Greens, have now been outlawed but they can still spend their lives cooped up in cramped conditions.

But eggs are still able to be produced by hens that spend their lives in cages, not much bigger than themselves, and are constantly being pecked away at by their neighbours as they lay our breakfasts.

Their plight has once again come to a head by news that one company's allegedly been passing off caged eggs as free range, labelling the boxes that way and obviously getting more for their product.

But should we care, an egg laid in a cage tastes the same as one laid in the field? Do hens actually feel pain and are they uncomfortable in cages?

Depends on who you listen to and who you believe.

Those who have put the microscope between a hen's eyes say they actually experience rapid eye movement, which apparently means they dream, they're protective and mother their chicks, when an egg's allowed to hatch, but most importantly they have pain receptors which means they can feel pain and suffer from distress.

But for those at the top of the political pecking order, there doesn't seem to be a great deal of pity for them.

Andrew chicken Little sounded as though he thought the sky was going to fall in when he was being asked about eggs on his way into caucus, seemed as unsure about the difference between a caged egg and a free range one as he is about the political centre ground.

Little accepts he could be seen as eggnostic, saying he doesn't make a study of eggs when he does the supermarket shopping.

And the acting Prime Minister Paula Bennett, wasn't much better, admitting to deliberately buying caged eggs at times because she's known for her bacon and egg pies and a batch of half a dozen take a lot of the cheaper whites and yokes.

With her recent pay rise you wouldn't think it'd be a factor!

- Newstalk ZB

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Barry Soper is Newstalk ZB's Political Editor

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