Supermarket chain Morrisons has launched a new line of “carbon-neutral” eggs, produced by feeding hens with insects reared on the company’s own food waste.
The so-called “planet friendly” eggs are the first product to be sold as part of Morrisons’ drive to be directly supplied by net-zero emission farms by 2030. Here, chickens laying the eggs reportedly have a soya-free diet including insects fed on food scraps from the retailer’s bakery, fruit and vegetable sites. This is supplemented by using an insect “mini farm” container made by the Cambridge-based startup, Better Origin.
According to the supermarket chain, the farm that supplies the eggs is equipped with a large wind turbine and solar panels, and aims to offset emissions at the facility by planting a fifth of its land with trees.
The company has also highlighted how insects are an ancestral part of a chicken’s diet and their new regime will not affect the quality, shelf life or taste of the eggs they produce.
Soya is a critical livestock feed which is associated with major environmental damage. Better Origin hence mentioned how food waste harbours the potential of producing carbon-negative animal feed by reducing the use of soya and decarbonising food production.
Cutting out soya also avoids the emissions involved with large-scale deforestation to grow the crop in places like Brazil—along with all the pollution triggered by shipping the feed.
“We know our customers consider the environmental impact of the food they eat and want affordable zero-emission produce,” said Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, in a press release. “Eggs are a regular weekly purchase for most households and so we’re thrilled that after 18 months of hard work with our farmers—these eggs are finally hitting our shelves.”
A report by the University of Cambridge has also confirmed the carbon neutral status of Morrisons’ new planet friendly eggs, having analysed all emissions in its production and those which are offset on its first carbon neutral farm. Morrisons further said the new eggs will be the first to feature the British Lion Egg green stamp to indicate the lower environmental impact to customers.
Costing £1.50 for six, and initially available in 50 Yorkshire outlets and Morrisons’ new lower environmental impact store in Little Clacton, the launch follows a 10-month ‘on farm’ trial.
A farm growing medical marijuana in Northern Thailand—where cannabis trade was made legal earlier this month—has been feeding its free-range chickens with pot instead of antibiotics in an experiment led by researchers from the Department of Animal and Aquatic Sciences at Chiang Mai University (CMU). So far, the study has delivered promising results.
The CMU team said that fewer than 10 per cent of the 1,000 chickens at the farm in Lampang have died since they introduced pot to the chickens’ diet in January 2021. While the totality of the study’s findings are still under review and only cover one year’s worth of research as of now, assistant professor Chompunut Lumsangkul, who led the research, told Insider that the cannabis feed appears to be working.
The birds’ peculiar food is produced by adding crushed cannabis to their feed and water, she explained. No antibiotics and medicines are fed to or used on the fowls during this time. But having healthier chickens is not the only benefit that seems to come from this experiment—it has also allowed the farm to sell its birds for higher prices to consumers looking to buy organic poultry.
In fact, the birds are selling for double the regular price, at about $1.50 per pound, mostly because buyers want organic chickens that haven’t been administered antibiotics, Lumsangkul told Insider. She even added that the chickens’ meat—which they call GanjaChicken by the way—is more tender and tastes better than regular chickens.
“Consumers in Thailand have been paying attention to this because demand is increasing for chickens and many farmers have to use antibiotics. So some customers want to find a safer product,” the assistant professor disclosed. On factory farms, antibiotics are used for two primary reasons: to promote growth and to prevent or treat infection.
As part of the study, Lumsangkul said her research team would sometimes give the chickens bolstered levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the substance found in marijuana that gets users high—that went past the legal limits for humans in Thailand.
When the Thai government legalised the sale of cannabis products however, it limited the amount of THC in the items one individual can consume to 0.2 per cent. In comparison, the chickens at the farm would sometimes get up to 0.4 per cent, Lumsangkul explained. “I can’t say the cannabis doesn’t let the chickens get high, but they exhibit normal behaviour,” she added.
As of yet, it’s unclear what the full benefits of feeding chickens cannabis are, nor is it known why the substance is keeping the birds healthy in the first place. That being said, the professor also shared that it’s likely that marijuana has bioactive compounds or substances that promote metabolic activity and better health conditions, which in turn are boosting the birds’ immune systems.
The study has only been a screening test so far and the researchers have yet to test if the cannabis feed works to protect the chickens against severe diseases like bird flu. As for the question that’s probably been on your mind this whole time, the researcher added that there’s “no way” people could get high from eating cannabis-fed chickens—the THC is fully metabolised in the chicken’s body before slaughter, meaning that its form is completely changed by the time it gets to the table, sadly.