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Story of an Egg: Farming, Marketing, and the Meaning of Words

Story of an Egg

How much do words matter when it comes to what’s on our plates? Two poultry farmers talk about chicken-raising and how their understanding of words has changed over time.

In six minutes, β€œThe Lexicon of Sustainability” looks at the evolution of words. People who raise their chickens outdoors, with access to fresh air, insects, seeds, and room to roam have β€œcage-free” chickens. But does cage-free actually mean that?

Cage-free simply means that the chicken lives outside the cage and nothing more. The chickens can be packed into a small room that gives them no more individual space than they would have in a cage.

For a few years, farmers who raised their chickens humanely used cage-free to denote their model. However, it didn’t take long for factory farms to take the label and apply it to their thousands of chickens crammed into a small room.

The farmers then have to find a new word to describe what they’re doing, so that consumers know what we’re getting. Marketers for the large corporations inevitably find a way to use the new labels.

It’s an interesting look at how these farmers’ view of what they’re doing and how others see them develops.

Image capture from video