One step beyond organic or free-range: Dutch farmer’s chickens lay carbon-neutral eggs

In Climate, News by

Is there such a thing as a carbon-neutral egg? One Dutch farmer thinks so.

Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil.

The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people.

Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. This second point is supported by Wageningen University, which has been examining the farm’s carbon footprint and fine dust emissions. The eggs, meanwhile, are sold at a more affordable price as the farm is not seeking to live up to some of what Zanders believes are the less sensible strictures necessary to describe his product as free-range or organic.