Bad news organic egg fans: your tasty breakfast staple might not be as ethical or good for the environment as you’d like to think. According to an NPR report, American farmers struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for organic eggs have turned to importing organic feed from countries like China and India. Not only does the expensive, imported feed result in a large carbon footprint and depress domestic organic egg production, but skeptics also worry about the authenticity of organic feed sourced from countries with less stringent regulations.
According to the report, the U.S. imports more than half of its organic soybeans as well as a significant portion of its organic corn from abroad. The situation seems odd given the U.S.’ reputation as the world’s largest soybean producer and exporter. The challenges in organic farming such as increased weeding and pest control, however, have dissuaded American farmers from changing the industry’s import-export landscape. As a result, the U.S. agribusiness imports significant amounts of organic feed from the same countries it ships conventionally grown feed.
Heavy dependence on outside countries for organic feed, however, has caused problems for the organic egg industry. Last summer, when the organic feed prices rose to double and triple the amount of their conventional counterparts, farmers shut down their organic production, leading to a nationwide egg shortage.