The nations largest name-brand marketer of organic eggs is being accused of not giving its chickens enough time outdoors.
According to the nonprofit farm policy group the Cornucopia Institute, a California farm associated with the Organic Valley co-op system confines chickens in screened “porches” with a roof and a floor not allowing them to forage naturally in pastures with direct sunlight.
Out And About
Federal organic standards state that “year-round access for all animals to the outdoors” is a requirement, but the standards never define exactly what “outdoors” means.
While the porches used at Petaluma Egg Farm may be approved by independent organic certifiers, the Cornucopia Institute says they don’t meet the spirit and intent of organic standards.
“We do everything we can to have high quality standards,” says Organic Valley spokesperson Theresa Marquez. “Porches are actually part of the organic certification in California; it’s considered access to the outdoors. We were approved.”
Clarity Is Key
The USDA is currently discussing whether or not to add a clarification to the rule. The proposed clarification states, “Enclosed spaces that have solid roofs overhead, such as those typically described as ‘porches,’ do not meet the definition of outdoor access.”
Is this really organic or just another way for companies to trick buyers?