The U.S. egg industry is reeling from a colossal outbreak of avian flu, mostly among egg-laying chickens. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 48 million birds, accounting for 11 percent of the nation’s egg-laying hens, have been slaughtered for fear of infection during the past few months.
The effects are far-reaching, from how to dispose of millions of potentially infected bird carcasses to job losses and rapidly rising egg prices. More than 40 countries have restricted U.S. poultry imports.
Although the precise cause of the outbreak remains uncertain, the horrendous conditions in today’s factory farms make egg and chicken production extremely vulnerable to disease outbreaks, and therefore, not sustainable.
A number of innovative companies have stepped in to offer plant-based alternatives that mimic closely the taste, texture, and cooking properties of eggs and chicken. They are available in the frozen food section of every supermarket.
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Many of us favor replacing polluting fossil energy sources with clean renewable ones. That takes concerted national action. But every one of us has the power to effect that same transition for our food sources every time we shop for food.