Choice – and “free range” eggs

I still read Choice magazine, although sometimes its passion for causes leaves me a bit cool.   One such cause that Choice has come back to again and again in recent months (and on-line, too) is the matter of “free range” eggs.  They’re upset that eggs can now be labelled (and also see here) as “free range” if the hens are stocked at densities of up to 10,000 per hectare.  Their preferred stocking density is up to 1,500 per hectare – a point that they’ve made a number of times in recent months.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t worthy issues here.  However, all the emphasis on this aspect of egg labelling seems to me to be a bit shrill.   Choice’s concern doesn’t seem to be welfare of the chooks (not a word about the animal welfare aspects of “cage eggs”, or even “barn laid” eggs).   My cynical mind suggests that the real concern is that the density figure adopted has made it possible for large scale producers to get into this segment of the market, presumably at the expense of smaller producers, one of which is actually named in the current issue of the magazine.   But isn’t the real issue whether consumers are properly informed?

I observe that the figure of 10,000 is less that the originally proposed figure of 20,000 that parts of the industry were pushing for and also that if specialist producers really think consumers want eggs laid by hens at the 1,500 density then why don’t those producers promote their eggs on this basis, bearing in mind that all producers of “free range” eggs now have to state the stocking density on the label?   True, it’s apparently open to state “one hen per m²” which may sound better than 10,000 hens per hectare, but surely not a lot turns on this?

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At Merimbula

We had a pleasant couple of days at Merimbula.  The apartment was nice and we ate well at the Wharf and Vicolo.   The latter Italian restaurant is particularly noteworthy;  great food and very authentic.   Although it’s tucked away up a laneway, it’s obviously well-known.   On the Tuesday night when we went, we couldn’t get a booking for our preferred time and even later in the evening, each time a table was vacated, it was re-set and used again.  We also had a look at Dulcie’s Cottage;  clearly quirky but seemingly popular.  If we’re ever that way again, we shall certainly try it.

I went for a walk beside the lake, but only spotted one pelican.

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Only one pelican to be seen!
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…but there were some statues to compensate
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The estuary

Spider web

We were really impressed by the large, carefully-constructed spider web in our courtyard.   The spider had obviously gone to a lot of trouble.

img_9709aIt didn’t intrude on our activities so we decided to leave it there, but unfortunately later in the day it had gone.  Perhaps one of the birds that frequent the area (encouraged by the bird bath)  had flown into it?

Those cockatoos!

Cockatoos have always been attracted to the rubbish bins down at Lorne – but it seems that man has devised a way to outsmart them!      The local bins are now being fitted with “gravity locks”.    The idea is that the bins are kept locked at all times except when rubbish is actually being put in.    The bins remain locked even when out for the rubbish collection, as it seems that when the truck clamps on to the bin and tips it into the compactor, the bin will pop open automatically.

img_9394aThere’s even a safety release button inside the bin in case a child finds itself in the bin!

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The pub and the koalas

We headed to the Wye River pub for a great lunch on the deck – good quality food and a very relaxing environment.   After that, we went a few more kilometres down the road to Kennett River where we headed up the Grey River road for a little koala-spotting.  The koalas are there alright, we spotted five without too much effort.

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Lovely day for the beach at Wye River, with lots of evidence of last year’s bushfire still visible
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Tucked up comfortably!