Many large egg-producing operations, like this one in Stuart, Iowa, would have to change the way they house hens if they want to sell eggs in California under the terms of a new California state law that is currently under court challenge.
Credit Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media
By most measures, David Kesten's hens are living the good life.
On a cold, blustery day at Port Elizabeth in New Jersey, one of several massive cranes whirs along a rail high above the pier, picks up a heavy container from a ship's deck and loads it on a waiting truck back on land. The truck drives away, another arrives, and the whole process starts again.
It's a scene played out every day along America's coasts as massive container ships from across the globe pull into deep-water seaports, waiting to be unloaded. The ships are enormous â€” some 10 stories high and several football fields long.
These days you can fly to far corners of the world and eat pretty much the same food you can get back home. There's pizza in China and sushi in Ethiopia.
A new scientific study shows that something similar is true of the crops that farmers grow. Increasingly, there's a standard global diet, and the human race is depending more and more on a handful of major crops for much of its food.
The other morning, I found myself staring at something strange and unfamiliar: empty grocery shelves with the word "eggs" above them. The store, a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C., blamed, in another sign, the dearth on "increased demand for organic eggs."
This scene is unfolding in grocery stores across the country. But Whole Foods' sign wasn't telling the whole truth. Demand for organic eggs is indeed increasing, but production is also down.
The reason behind that shortfall highlights an increasingly acute problem in the organic industry.