Hard Boiled

The Rising Cost of Humane Eating

You'll pay a little more for your eggs at Wabash, but you're paying for peace of mind.

By Katharine Shilcutt January 8, 2015

A half-flat of jumbo cage-free eggs from Wabash comes in a recycled egg carton from H-E-B.

Amidst all the talk about falling oil prices, the talk of the food world this week has been rising costs: of brisket—nearly as important in Texas as oil—and of eggs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's more of a we've-kept-prices-artificially-deflated-with-various-farming-practices-that-are-now-being-addressed sort of thing. "The new year is expected to bring rising egg prices across the United States as California starts requiring farmers to house hens in roomier cages," the New York Times noted this week. "To comply, farmers will have to put fewer hens into each cage or invest in revamped henhouses, most likely passing the costs on to consumers."

Wabash Feed Store
5701 Washington Ave.

Now, this isn't a blog post about where to combat rising egg prices or where to purchase cheap eggs. Instead, this is a blog post about purchasing the sort of eggs that already comply with the sort of cage laws already passed in California. You know: eggs from chickens that don't spend their lives boxed into cramped quarters that are little more than poultry concentration camps. You want the good stuff. You want eggs from honest-to-Green-Acres free-range or at least cage-free chickens that spend some time outside and eat bugs and have relatively normal chicken lives. And you want eggs that didn't travel halfway across the nation to reach you, hailing from places you'd never be able to go and visit in person.

You can get those eggs from several places around town, but my personal favorite spot for egg shopping is at Wabash Feed Store. You know you can trust the provenance of eggs from a place whose marquee outside reads: "Se venden pollos vivos." You may be forgiven for thinking the eggs that Wabash sells come from the chickens it also sells, but you'd be mistaken. Wabash purchases its eggs from several area poultry farms such as The Barry Farm in Needville and CNL Ranch in Angleton.

There are two varieties of eggs available each day: cage-free and free-range (NPR has an excellent explanation of the differences between the two). A flat of jumbo 20 cage-free eggs costs $8, while a half-flat of 10 eggs costs $4. A dozen free-range eggs costs $5.50.

Sure, this is up to five times more than you'll pay at the grocery store. In 2014, the average cost of a dozen eggs fluctuated between $1 and $1.77. But at roughly 40 cents per egg, a couple of eggs still makes for a healthy, delicious meal for less than $1 per serving. If you can put a price on relative peace of mind when it comes to humane food consumption, it's a price I'm willing to pay.

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