I came to this story after reading a surprising claim by Tassie’s anti-battery hen campaigner Pam Clarke in an ABC news article late last year: that layer hens are no better off today than they were back in the 1980s.
In a day and age where people are more worried about what’s in their food and where it comes from than ever, where ‘free range’ and ‘ethically sourced’ are popular buzzwords in menus and Instagram hashtags, and where more and more people are buying free range eggs from the supermarket shelf, it seemed impossible that things hadn’t changed.
The news in Tassie around that time was that yet another attempt to ban cage eggs, this time for use in the prison service, had failed.
Edge Radio, Hobart
I wondered what was really behind all this to-ing and fro-ing. Despite an obvious push by the community to ban cage eggs, something was driving the industry to continue producing them.
It didn’t seem to make sense that here in Tassie, the ‘free range’ state, where the market scene is thriving and local farmers are proud of the way they grow their food, consumer demand for eggs produced by hens hidden away from public view in battery sheds was still going strong.
This story takes a look behind the footage, giving some colour to an issue that’s so often painted as black and white and a voice to local figures on all sides, including the free range farmers trying to find some middle ground and perhaps a way forward.
It cracks open what’s going on in the industry right now, the way the laws aren’t really protecting hens or consumers and why it matters.
All the music in this piece is by local Hobart band and Salamanca Market regulars, The Foley Artists.
Pictured: Pam Clarke rescuing hens from a battery shed in 2002