In an essay on Ethical Egg Eating, heritage breeds, such as these Dominiques of Alice Armen's, get an optional afterthought:
4. (Optional) The Egg Is Laid by a Heritage Breed
The eggs supplied by factory farms as well as many small, local farms
come from hens that have been bred not to brood — i.e., not to want to
sit on, incubate and hatch their eggs with a view to mothering a brood
of chicks. The behavior, after all, is an inconvenience to commercial
farmers who want their hens to be as productive as possible laying eggs
rather than warming them.
Out of his flock of 3,000 hens, Mr. Waters says that only 1 will
hatch 5 or 6 eggs every year. Most of Ms. Alexandre’s hens, likewise,
don’t go broody, but she also keeps a small flock of heritage breeds
that do. (The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), which works to conserve rare breeds and genetic diversity in livestock, maintains a list of heritage chicken breeds.)
This is where we enter a grayish area of right and wrong. Is it
enough that the very hen who laid the infertile eggs you’re about to eat
was raised humanely? Or is it wrong to eat eggs laid by a hen — however
she was raised — of any breed that was explicitly created to be
I’m inclined to argue that it’s okay to eat eggs from any breed of
hen as long as they were produced under otherwise happy circumstances.
But for anyone who isn’t so inclined, your best bet is to get your eggs
from a farmer who raises heritage breeds.
So as far as I understand, one can eat eggs without abandoning one’s ethics. The problem is that the more than 6.5 billion table eggs (i.e., eggs intended for human consumption) that are produced in this country every month
are of the unethical type. So for many ethically-minded eaters, it’s
simply easier to exclude eggs from their diet altogether rather than try
to track down “good” eggs. But they are in fact out there for those who