“Conventional eggs are produced in circumstances where chickens are in cages. The cages are so small that hens can’t stretch their wings. By being outside, they can stretch. Also, chickens enjoy privacy. When they are cage free, they have decisions on where to put eggs. They enjoy scratching the ground and dust bathing. These are natural behaviors they are not able to do when inside,” said Jennifer Brown from Humane Society International- Latin America.
Around the world, hens are placed in battery cages where the duration of their life is spent in confinement. An alternative to cage-raised hens, are cage-free hens which are given an open space and freedom to roam and thrive organically, said the organization.
There are close to 3 million laying hens in Costa Rica, and a very low percentage of those hens are free-range chickens.
Restaurants such as Escazú’s Oasis and Buena Tierra, San José’s Café de los Deseos, Cambalache and Jardín del Parque, Santa Ana’s Alquimia Healthy and San Pedro de Montes de Oca’s Café Kracovia and Veggie House have committed to only selling eggs that are from free-range chickens, spokespersons said.
“As soon as we heard about cage-free eggs, we did not hesitate to make the switch. It’s the best way for us as a business to support a better treatment of animals used in food production. We at Café de los Deseos urge all food retailers to join us in this change. Switching to cage-free eggs does not take any extra effort, and it’s an alternative that supports all aspects of improved welfare,” said Café de los Deseos owner David Meléndez.
However, cage-free chickens don’t guarantee better tasting eggs. Some consumers have noticed a difference in the quality of eggs from free-range hens, but this is not always the case.
“A number of people notice a difference in the flavor of the egg and the color of the yolk, but that’s not all very common for consumers to note the change. It’s all objective opinion,” said Ms. Brown.
“Our reason for wanting folks to know about these are so they can support the restaurant and really try to consider the consequences of their choices. Also, so then they can start thinking about ways their food choices affect animals so they go and purchase these eggs in places like supermarkets,” she said.
Eggs from non-caged chickens are available for purchase in a variety of places. Egg brands La Yema Dorada in Perimercados, NutriHuevo in Walmart and Mas x Menos, and Huevo Criollo in Auto Mercado all offer cage-free options, reported the society.
Also, farmers at organic markets have these eggs available, and there are restaurants in Montezuma, Santa Teresa, Tambor, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Cahuita that have followed suit.
“Adopting a cage-free egg policy is something every restaurant can do to improve the lives of egg-laying hens and to attract consumers who care about the treatment of animals.” said Cynthia Dent, Humane Society International- Latin America regional director.