A lot of people have been talking about modern egg production since the salmonella contaminations. All have been linked to the Big Bad Wolf of egg farmers; Jack DeCoster. This guy gets about as much respect among Iowa farmers as Mel Gibson now gets in Hollywood. That’s because the majority of Iowa farmers, both big and small…believe in doing things right.

As a farmer’s daughter, a longtime reporter, a Mom and a bargain-shopper, I ask a lot of questions and seek out information from a lot of sources to make up my mind about things that affect my family’s health. I know one bad actor does not define an industry, or a product.

I guess it’s because, like all rational, educated, hard-working Moms out there, I use common sense to guide my choices. In everything. Not everyone does that.

Witness, for example, what’s happening in California right now; http://tinyurl.com/23dh4pq California is in the middle of the worst whooping cough outbreak in a half-century. Doctors say non-vaccinating parents set this whole ball rolling. These parents believed a (now debunked) Andrew Wakefield, who did a ‘study’ with 12 kids and claimed a link between childhood vaccinations and autism. He’s been proven wrong a hundred times since then.

Back when Wakefield was making the talk-show rounds with actress Jenny McCarthy (Mother to an autistic son), it scared Moms away from giving their kids life-saving vaccinations. Many grieving, scared, searching-for-answers Moms took the advice of the defrocked doctor and an actress they never met, over their own doctor and generations of good medical science. When did common sense become a thing of the past?

And now, flash forward to another situation which calls for common sense; the egg recall at Wright County Egg Farms. Iowa farmers, both large and small, agree if the reports are true about the conditions inside that place, it was wrong; it was unhealthy for the eggs and the birds. But, as shocking as the case seems to be, it’s not typical.

How do I know? Common sense leads me to ask farmers. And when I think of egg farming experts….I think of….The Dalai Lama? What? No, seriously, before you laugh; the Dalai Lama is now weighing in on how chickens should be raised. (I know, right?). The esteemed leader put out this statement today: http://tinyurl.com/2bl2ous Hey, there’s nothing wrong with the Dalai Lama giving his opinion. But he, like many others willing to ‘jump into the fray’, is not a farmer.

Clearly, there’s a right way and a wrong way to raise egg-laying hens. But what you may not know is that size has nothing to do with preventing salmonella. Even small farmers with a few dozen chickens scratching around in the dirt can tell you that when it comes to salmonella, it can happen to anyone. Kyle Holthaus, a small chicken and vegetable farmer from northwest Iowa, (check him out on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7s89yIkuBo) says following the rules and caring for animals is key to keeping food safe. “That is something farmers both big and small do. We’ve got a 44 page manual so far for food safety and we’re not near-done writing it at all. In ideal world, we don’t need more food safety regulations…we need smarter ones,” says Holthaus.

All I know is that my menu for breakfast at home hasn’t changed; eggs, yogurt, couple strips of bacon. Of course, I’d like to put some chocolate on my plate too…but common sense prevails.

Written by Laurie Johns
Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.