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>  News Releases >   2006 >   March

Dartmouth dining switches to cage free eggs

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 03/17/06 • Genevieve Haas (603) 646-3661

As of March 28, 2006, the start of Dartmouth Spring Term, all of the shelled eggs served by the College dining services will be provided by cage free hens from Pete and Gerry's Organic Farm in Monroe, N.H. Dartmouth consumes roughly 6,480 eggs per week, more than 300,000 eggs per year. Dartmouth is one of only 80 U.S. colleges and universities to switch to cage free eggs and the first among the Ivy League to do so, according to representatives from the Humane Society of the United States.

R. Tucker Rossiter, Director of College Dining Services, worked extensively with Sustainability Coordinator Jim Merkel to make the switch. Rossiter acknowledged that cage free eggs are marginally more expensive than the "battery eggs" produced by chickens living in small, tightly-packed cages, but added that the price increase was not significant when compared to the benefits of buying cage free.

"It's the right thing to do," said Rossiter. "It's a better product; it's better treatment for the chickens; and it's better to buy local." Rossiter added that in a blind taste test, he and other dining services personnel preferred the taste of the cage free eggs.

Merkel, who is currently at work on other initiatives to shrink the college's consumption footprint, said that switching to cage free is part of the College's overall commitment to sustainability. "The primary step is often local, in order to save to transportation impacts," said Merkel. "Pete and Gerry's is a local New Hampshire business; from a sustainability perspective, this supports the local economy and builds community by keeping jobs in our area. It's really a win-win." Merkel added that the College dining services have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and called the decision to go cage free "a courageous and important step."

Paul Shapiro, Factory Farming Campaign manager for The Humane Society of the United States, said of the College's decision, "Dartmouth's switch to cage-free eggs is a positive statement that animal welfare is an important part of social responsibility. We applaud Dartmouth's support for improved animal welfare practices, and we encourage other schools to follow its example."

Although all of the whole, shelled eggs used by the college will be cage free, dining services will, for now, continue to purchase liquid blended eggs from conventional vendors. According to Rossiter, the College plans to revisit the issue of liquid eggs after reviewing its experience with the local, cage free shelled eggs.

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