Industrial Turkeys

One need not look hard to find evidence of the brokenness of our food culture.  I’ve blogged about much of that evidence, of course, and will continue to do so.

Today, as we enter Fall and move toward Thanksgiving, I thought I’d mention the weird and disturbing way turkeys are raised in this country.

When we think of a turkey, an image like this beautiful wild turkey usually comes to mind.

But over 99% of the turkey meat eaten by Americans comes from an animal called the broad-breasted white.

Broad breasted whites are genetically contrived mutants, incapable of surviving in nature.  Their unnatural body mass creates respiratory and muscular problems.  They cannot fly and almost always die of sickness and poor health by the time they reach full adulthood.  They are unable to reproduce naturally and every single one of them is a product of artificial insemination.

Just let that fact sink in.

No Pilgrim and no Indian ever ate such an animal.

Every year politicians “pardon” a turkey at Thanksgiving.  But it’s just a show of course.  Those animals die shortly after their “pardon.”  Last year one fell off a poultry truck passing through town and someone took it to the humane society, where they naively decided to keep it as a pet.  But of course it died soon.  These things just aren’t designed to live.  They are engineered to grow rapidly on a cheap “food to meat conversion ratio.”  They are designed to get as big as possible, as quickly as possibly and as cheaply as possible.  They are frankenfood.  And like all industrial farm animals, American turkeys are raised in hellish CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations).

For those who want to have a turkey at Thanksgiving this year (and remember there is nothing about the holiday that makes turkey meat necessary) I recommend you go to localharvest.org and locate a farm raising natural heritage breed turkeys.

Just say no to industrial turkeys.

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5 comments on “Industrial Turkeys

  1. shoreacres says:

    Well. This is awful. Ironically enough, about four years ago my mom and I looked at each other and had this conversation. “Do you like turkey?” “No, I don’t like turkey.” “I don’t, either. Let’s do something different.”

    Enter the herb-crusted rolled pork loin. Now I have another reason to be grateful for our switch.

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    • Bill says:

      There are lots of folks who eat turkey ONLY on Thanksgiving. (And of course that’s the only day anyone eats cranberry sauce. 🙂 ) It’s become so much a part of the tradition that it is sometimes tough to convince people that nothing obligates them to serve turkey at Thanksgiving. I’ll take pork loin over turkey any day.

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  2. Melanie Freisinger says:

    YOu may want to check this out. “Pork” comes from an animal also raised for sale and the conditions are no better, sadly.

    http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/pork-industry.aspx

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    • Bill says:

      Melanie–
      You are right that pigs are systematically abused in American industrial agriculture. I’ve blogged often about that here. But it seems that humanely raised pork is easier to find than turkey–probably because of the prevalence of the broad-breasted white breed. But we definitely need to pay attention to where ANY of our food comes from, not just our turkey.

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  3. C.C. says:

    We are lucky here in New Mexico to have locally-farmed turkeys – they are very expensive, but it is an alternative. At our food coop we have had “free range” turkeys available for sale for many years.
    http://www.polloreal.com/Welcome.html

    We also have a song we used to sing in our 3rd grade Albuquerque Public School classrooms: “Albuquerque has a turkey/ and he’s feathered and he’s fine/ and he wobbles and he gobbles/ and he’s absolutely mine./ He’s the best pet/ you can get yet/ better than a dog or cat./ He’s my Albuquerque turkey and I’m awfully proud of that./ And my Albuquerque turkey is so happy in his bed,/ cause for our Thanksgiving dinner we have enchildadas instead.”

    It is important to know the reality of the food you are eating.

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