[Rocky Mountain News - opinion]

Eggs are the best deal in the grocery store.

For $2.50, I can get a carton of 18 eggs and whip up a hearty omelet for six.

You can't serve peanut butter for that price.

For years, I have marveled at how cheap eggs are, crediting free enterprise for allowing me to enjoy eggs all week for less than a single Starbucks latte.

But of course, it's not that simple.

Eggs don't come from old MacDonald's farm anymore.

They come from giant commercial outfits that are attracting worldwide criticism for their treatment of chickens.
Some facts:

� Ninety-eight percent of eggs eaten by Americans are laid by factory chickens that live in layered wire cages and stay indoors around the clock.
Information about commercial egg farms is abundant on the Internet.

But here's a quick overview by Michael Pollan from his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma:

"The American laying hen spends her brief span of days piled together with a half-dozen other hens in a wire cage the floor of which four pages of this book could carpet wall to wall.
The good news is you have a choice. You can buy eggs laid by cage-free chickens. You'll spend twice as much, but we're only talking a buck or two.

My grocery store has a good selection of free-range eggs, and I have read that Whole Foods and Wild Oats markets now sell only eggs from free-range or cage- free chickens.
I've never been an "animal rights" person. In fact, I was on the animal-rights enemies list a couple of years ago when I wrote that I'd bought my dog at a pet store.

Consider my consciousness raised.

This week , I was glad to see the huge outpouring of sympathy for Barbaro, the winning steed with the big heart that had to be put down.

But it also makes me question why we're so selective about the suffering we choose to see, and why we can't expand our scope.

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full story: article/0,2777,DRMN_23962_5324380,00.html

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