Article from 24 Jan 2023

You may have recently heard about plastics getting into our food supply. It may be the first time you have heard about this. Like you, we are very concerned about plastic pollution and welcome higher awareness. However, eggs from good quality sources are unlikely to contribute meaningfully to the estimated credit card’s worth of plastic that is consumed by each of us every week[1]. Unfortunately, we ingest plastic from every part of our food supply as well as from our homes.

In this article, we want to give you hope and make you feel directly empowered about your environment, by sharing what we have done over the years to substantially reduce our intake of PFAS, phthalates, microplastics as well as endocrine disruptors at our farm and in our home.

We set up our small farm a few kilometres outside Copenhagen in 2020, to make a healthy alternative to mass agriculture. We make every decision to our maxims: “local, regenerative, animal welfare”.

We have been aware of the plastic issue for over a decade and we want to share with you how we work hard to give you nutritious produce while reducing your plastic credit card “bill”.

This article covers some of the questions you may have regarding plastics:

  • Are eggs still healthy to eat?

  • What have we done to reduce risk of plastic in food?

  • Where can you make a significant reduction of plastic that you ingest in your life?

  • Why does feed contain fishmeal?

  • What are the alternatives to fishmeal and why don’t we feed soy?

  • How has plastic in fishmeal impacted our own health at the farm?

We’d love you to read our article in its entirety, because no issue is as simple as made out and it is tricky to condense 10 years of our research into a bitesize chunk. We would also love your feedback on our approach.

Are eggs still healthy to eat?

Yes. Good-quality eggs from pastured hens:

  • Have the perfect nutrient profile, with minerals and proteins in the perfect ratios

  • Contain high Omega 3s and are linked to reduced heart disease

  • Contain nutrients that are deficient in our diets

  • Do not raise LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol[2].

In context, more plastics are ingested from home furnishings during a meal at home eating fish, than from the fish itself (see sections below). As a growing family of two and an infant, we eat 15-20 of our eggs a day, every day – for the past three years. While the health effects of microplastics are yet to be fully understood, we can categorically say that we have not experienced health issues despite eating 10 to 30 times more eggs than on average (we have had one cold in the last three years).

We believe that any potential risks are offset by the perfect nutrient profile of pastured eggs from our naturally raised hens. We have also phased out about half of the plastics impacting health in our home so far (keep reading where you can make healthy improvements).

To underline, we take the plastics issue very seriously. For example, we could not complete our bathroom renovation for six months, until we found a plumber willing to work with copper water pipes instead of the now-common plastic.

What have we done to reduce the risk of plastic in the food we produce and the environment?

As our hens are pastured on our fields, they have access to grass, bugs and plants. They are also moved regularly, so they have a continuous supply of supplemental nutrition (part of our regenerative approach for higher animal welfare and environmental regeneration). This means that up to 30% of our pastured hens’ food comes from other sources than the feed, reducing the quantity of fishmeal in their diet to about 3%.

From the start of our farm in 2020, we have opted for significantly more expensive alternatives to plastic where there is risk of leaching (see next section about plastic leaching). This has included steel water containers and feed troughs for the animals.

We have built out of wood and steel. Where alternatives do not exist, we have opted for plastics that have long life when properly treated, such as burying high-density polyurethane pipes for water supply, so they are not degraded by heat and sunlight.

These initiatives increased our costs but we knew it was the right thing to do, even if not many people were aware of the plastic issue at the time.

Where can you make a significant reduction of plastic that you ingest in your life?

While eggs are the latest food in the spotlight, research has shown that there is no getting away from plastic pollution in the food supply, as every food that is studied appears to be tainted[3].

However, you can make straightforward concrete steps to reduce your reliance on “plastic (not so) fantastic” today:

There is much greater impact on us from microplastics in our homes than from seafood[4]. Millions of tiny plastic particles coat the average home and are ingested in every day and are even found in lung tissue and our blood[5], due to our clothes and upholstery choices[6].

  • Buy and wear non-synthetic clothes, wherever possible. Wear natural fibres, preferably organic (see Global Organic Standard – try one GOTS certified garment that you wear next to your skin and we are confident you will notice the difference). Also look at ethically-sourced leather and natural rubber

  • Remove synthetic carpets, curtains, etc. from the home

Chemicals found in plastics (called endocrine disruptors) leach into our food and play havoc with our hormones, and have been linked to cancers[7]. Plastics leach into foods, especially when heated and when storing corrosive foods, such as tomato sauce or acidic fizzy drinks. “BPA-free” plastic is no reassurance[8].

  • Heat and store food in metal, glass, ceramic. Non-stick is convenient but non-stick coatings are usually made from PTFE, a major PFAS[9]

  • Buy foods stored in glass and avoid canned foods. Cans are usually coated in plastic and give a long time for food to leach into the food

Less than 5% of plastic is recycled globally[10][11]. Reduce the contribution of plastic waste reaching our environment and food:

  • Opt for products that contain no plastic, where possible

  • Shop locally with food producers that don’t rely as much on plastic packaging as supermarkets

  • Make buying decisions that make plastics last longer. When making purchases, consider higher quality items made locally, rather than cheap throw-away

  • Research the pervasiveness of plastics in our environment, from the paint on our walls to the cosmetics we use[12]

These are just some ideas that we have implemented at our home. It may appear daunting to start, when you look at all the plastic in the home, but work steadily and as budget allows, to create a healthier home.

We know that alternatives to plastics may not be as convenient or cheap, but as we hope that we can set examples for our friends and families by making a conscious decision to start moving away from plastic.

Why is fishmeal used in hen feed?

Hens are omnivores and require a diet that meets their basic animal needs, which should include animal-derived protein (amino acid profile). The EU banned blood meal (a far superior and less environmentally destructive protein, we believe), due to Britain’s “mad cow disease” scare a few decades ago, leaving no alternative but fishmeal as an animal protein source. It seems that European bureaucracy has hemmed itself in again, at the expense of animal welfare and the consumer.

What are the alternatives in hen feed and why don’t we feed soy?

The alternatives right now appear to be soy or synthetic amino acids, used in conventional hen feed, but at present not permitted in organic feed. soy protein. Soy is already used extensively in animal feeds because it is cheap and reportedly easily digested. However, high soy protein diets have been linked to many emerging health issues, including disruption of hormones and cancer[13] – therefore people eating eggs from hens fed soy could have an increased risk.

Processed plants also have a high Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. Western diet is very high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3[14]. Oily fish (in fishmeal) has excellent Omega 3 content, which translates into the nutrition of the egg.

Soy farming’s impact on the environment has also been documented, including deforestation and pollution in processing[15].

For these reasons, we have worked hard to have soy-free feed for our hens (and pigs - which usually also have a high soy diet as standard in the industry).

The animal industry is well aware of the microplastics issue and has been researching filtering microplastics for a number of years[16].

We would love a credible alternative to fishmeal, however, we are not aware of one right now that will meet the animal welfare needs of the hens, and us as consumers.

We will shortly be able to assess the proposed feed composition from our feed manufacturer.

Make the choice that is right for you

We have worked (and continue to work) in reducing plastic contamination in our feed, while taking care of our animals’ welfare - well before the current awareness of plastic.

Humanity’s colossal plastics problem for our health and environment is not going away if fishmeal is removed from feed or eggs are eaten less. If we don’t take personal responsibility now and where it matters, then there will be little to eat in the future.

While doing so, we hope that you will continue with us on our journey of making local, environmentally regenerative food that honours our animal partners.

All the best,

Marianne, Andy and Leo

If you would like to know more or share your feedback, please email us at marianne@søagergå


[1] Plastic ingestion by people could be equating to a credit card a week;

[2] 9 Health Benefits of Eating Eggs;

[3] Microplastics and Human Health: Our Great Future to Think About Now

[4] How damaging is breathing in microplastics?

[5] Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood

[6] Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ contaminate indoor air at worrying levels, study finds

[7] Contribution of common plastic-related endocrine disruptors to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor progression;

[8] Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved

[9] PFAS: What to Know;

[10] Coke and Pepsi sued for creating a plastic pollution ‘nuisance’

[11] Circular Claims Fall Flat Again;

[12]Toxic Chemicals Found in Many Cosmetics;

[13] What Are the Dangers of Soy Protein?

[14] Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids: A Complete Overview

[15] Soy, WWF;

[16] Assessing the effectiveness of microplastic extraction methods on fishmeal with different properties;

The article may only be reproduced with our express permission.

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