buy a happy turkey

it occurred to me that i don't soapbox nearly as often as i ought on this blog of mine. this post is, undoubtedly, two weeks late in its submission but the very fact that i am On Top of my world of cluttered farm-work enough to write this to you before thanksgiving is reason enough for me to be self-congratulatory.

there was an article this past sunday morning in the Times about the price of turkey this year : In the Labyrinth of Turkey Pricing, a Reason Under Every Giblet. the article is in the business section of the paper and investigates why some turkeys are sold for 49 cents a pound and others can go for $6.50 a pound and What You Are Paying For.

i highly recommend you read it. the interesting point the author seems to make is that nobody is making money off turkeys. not those selling confinement, non organic birds at dollar candy prices. not those selling free range, happy healthy organically raised, humanely raised birds. the cost of feed is too expensive. corn and soy prices have shot through the roof in the past years and the consumer won't take on that burden. in fact it is the consumer that expects, Every Year, that the Price of anything will go down. especially the Price of a 16lb butterball turkey. and so the Price does.

seeing signs at supermarkets for 49 cents-a-pound birds makes me literally laugh aloud. having raised turkeys before i can only imagine what sort of cost-cutting measures these farmers are taking to at least break even if not lose money on turkeys this year. even the organic turkeys for sale at whole foods are advertised at a whopping $1.49 at our local store can't possibly reflect the actual cost of raising the bird.

but forget the farmer that is loosing money. forget the supermarket that will most likely make no money on these thanksgiving birds. forget how much breast meat you are hoping to have afterwards for the prodigal leftover. forget how much food you intend to heap on to your plate that afternoon. forget feelings of guilt about how much you need versus how much you take.

and try to remember the life of the bird this thanksgiving. try to remember where he was raised. try to remember if that bird ever got to see the light of day. or smell fresh air. or keep its beak. or keep its toes. or keep its wings.

try to remember whether or not this bird was grown and fed so quickly that its breast grew faster than his legs could keep up so that at the end of his life he couldn't even stand up.

i don't advocate on this blog To Not Eat Animals. humans are carnivores. have been for what seems like Forever. will be for as long as animals continue to taste so good. but i do advocate researching the animals that you eat and what better time, what more black-and-white a time to do this than with the thanksgiving turkey.

i've never been the best at the Cold Hard Facts so i urge you to give you some attention to a daily green article from last year's thanksgiving. i urge you to look, this year, as you buy your turkey, for local farm's turkeys. to search for birds that are not broad-breasted whites (these are those that are designed to grow too quickly). i urge you to at the very least consider an organic bird. so that you know those birds aren't living in conditions where antibiotics are a base-line. i urge you to at the very least consider a free range bird (a free range bird means only that the bird is not kept in a cage but can still be kept in a warehouse with just one, small, open door).

i urge you this season to think with your dollars when you are remembering the bird's life. we all have so much to be thankful for this thanksgiving.  let you count in your blessings at the table this year the bird whose life was given for your meal. and let it have been a good life.


  1. Well said. We need to source our food better...and the turkey is a good way to start.

  2. A-men! I happily pre-ordered a fresh free range organic turkey for a hefty chunk of change knowing it had a better life than many of its counterparts. I couldn't enjoy eating it if I knew it were grown under poor conditions and suffered. (although since I didn't actually raise it myself, I can't be positive, but this is as close I can get I suppose.)

  3. nice post! thought you might like to see see how some of your NC birds put their best beak forward in this unc-tv package. we shot this piece the day the pigs ran away. good times!


  4. great post. i'm a vegetarian, not because i don't think people should eat meat, but because it is so hard to make sure you are eating an animal that was raised in a natural way, and didn't live it's whole life in pain. for me it is easier just to go without.

  5. thank you for this. there is no time like the present to try and make a change!

  6. Awesome, thanks for posting!

  7. We got 2 small heritage birds for Thanksgiving this year... Very yummy, but the leg meat was super tough. Damn you organic hippie farmers for letting those birds roam free! ;)

  8. Thank you for this post. I love your blog and am really glad you spoke out against buying inhumanely raised turkeys. However, humans are not carnivores. Carnivores subsist only on animal flesh and tear animals down with their claws and teeth. We are omnivores and we do not need meat to live. We can choose to eat animals in a responsible way, which clearly you do. So thank you again for raising animals in the right way, just keep in mind that it is not essential to our existence.

  9. yes! jessica, i of course to mean omnivores not carnivores. though, sometimes i do think humans act very much like the carnivores you are describing.


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