Nutrition is complex. It encompasses a range of topics, from acute illness therapy to fueling athletics to long term maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. More so now than ever before, though, it has become evident that the impact of our dietary choices goes beyond personal health. An ever-expanding global population coupled with limited natural resources raises the stakes on our food supply, pushing health professionals to also take into consideration the impact of our food choices on the environment we live in.
America’s egg farmers understand and have responded to the need for more environmentally friendly food practices. The Egg Industry Center’s latest landmark study exhibits the significant system-wide impact of the egg industry’s continual improvements in sustainable and efficient egg production.
As described in the “Comparison of the environmental footprint of the egg industry in the United States in 1960 and 2010,” published in the February 2014 issue of Poultry Science, U.S. egg farmers have significantly decreased their environmental footprint from 1960 to 2010.1 In fact, the industry is producing more eggs while using fewer natural resources and producing less waste. In their comparative life cycle assessment of the industry over the past 50 years, researchers found:
- The egg production process releases significantly less polluting emissions, including a 71 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Hens use 32 percent less water per dozen eggs produced.
- Hens use a little more than half the amount of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
- Hens produce 27 percent more eggs per day.
- Hens live longer, with their mortality rate reduced by 57 percent.
This study serves as a beacon of whole food system sustainability and also reveals potential for even greater egg industry efficiency improvements in the near future. With World Bank projections of 50% increased global food demand by 2030, populations will require affordable, accessible, nutrient-rich foods like eggs to maintain human health and the health of the planet over time, and egg farmers are well-positioned to help meet this need.
Scientists and health professionals alike have long recognized eggs as a nutritional powerhouse. After all, eggs are all-natural and packed with a number of nutrients. Just one egg has an impressive range of vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein and antioxidants, all for just 70 calories. In light of this new environmental research, health professionals can now confidently recommend eggs to their clients as a nutrient dense food, provided by an industry with an on-going commitment to sustainability.
What do you do to encourage clients to choose healthy and sustainable diets? Join the discussion by adding your comments below.
1) Pelletier N, Ibarburu M, Xin H. Comparison of the environmental footprint of the egg industry in the United States in 1960 and 2010. Poult Sci 2014;93:241-55.