What Should a Dozen Eggs Cost?

August 10, 2011

Jane Black complains about the fact that the eggs at her local farmers’ market, priced at $8 per dozen, are too expensive:

But eight dollars is more than five times the price of a dozen conventional eggs and more than double that of organic eggs at the supermarket. The sky-high prices threaten to exclude from the farmers’ market anyone who isn’t a hedge fund manager.

But her analysis ignores the crucial part of this issue. It may well be that if you want eggs from hens who receive abundant space and excellent care, you need to abandon the idea that a dozen eggs can be had for under $5.

Rather than bash the farmer or the farmers’ market for selling eggs to elitists, the more sensible route would be to say something like, “People who aren’t flush with cash and who care about animal cruelty ought to consider removing eggs from their diets, since it’s impossible to produce eggs inexpensively without substantial amounts of cruelty.”

If you don’t want to go the vegan route, you can just reserve egg recipes for special occasions, and buy the highest welfare eggs you can find. And even then, your three-egg omelet costs less than three bucks. Jane’s elitist argument just doesn’t fly. Daily access to cheap, high welfare eggs isn’t a birthright, and it could only occur in the presence of massive subsidies.

If you’re poor, you can’t afford to drive a Ferrari, and you can’t afford to eat high welfare eggs every day. And since eggs are no more essential for health and well-being than a Ferrari, it’s not like avoiding them on ethical grounds entails a massive sacrifice.

Blaming the farmer that high welfare eggs are expensive is like kvetching that you need to study and attend class to become a doctor. It’s an immature reaction that ignores reality, and reveals a mindset that insists that the universe should give you something for nothing.

If you want to eat animal products that are not produced with substantial needless cruelties, you have to pay for it. Sorry, Jane: that’s just the way it is. Link.

Previous post:

Next post: