A Greener and More Humane Thanksgiving

I visited my massage therapist yesterday and I always enjoy our conversation almost as much as I do the massage. We’re generally like-minded on most issues – she is the one who founded our local sustainable page that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

I was surprised to learn, though, that we didn’t agree on the uproar PETA made this year over the Turkey Trot Festival, in which live turkeys are thrown from an airplane. The wild turkeys, which can only generally fly at low altitudes and slow speeds, sometimes plummet into the ground, cars or buildings with a sickening splat.

She generally agreed with most of the townsfolk that it is a long standing, 60-year tradition and the kids were the ones who really missed out on getting to chase the birds – if they survived the drop – which is the whole point, she said (I’m glad she said this is the point because up until now I did not get it).

“There are turkeys dying everyday in the factory farms and far less of them die in one day at the festival than in a factory farm,” she argued. “I choose to pick my battles over other animal rights issues.”

I don’t agree with her on the tradition point; just because it’s tradition doesn’t make it right, that’s what they call progression of a society.

I certainly don’t agree with her on taking children to chase birds that have just survived being dropped from a plane. I think this teaches children that animals are there for our amusement and if a few of them suffer and splat on the ground in pursuit of that amusement, it’s ok, as long as everyone has fun.

I do see her point on the factory farming though. Factory farms, particularly the factory turkey farms here are nauseating, so much so, that Dale and I cannot eat it without thinking of the pungent smell that fills our car each time we pass one and so, we generally just don’t eat turkey.

We would, however, if we wanted turkey, choose to go to a local free-range farmer who raises their organic heirloom turkeys (not the huge breasted Franken-turkeys factory farms produce) in sunlight and without all of the added chemicals.

We can say no to factory farming, I believe, and still support efforts to limit the amount of cruelty for amusement; they’re not mutually exclusive.

Will you be celebrating a more sustainable Thanksgiving this year? Did you raise or order your turkey from an organic, humane farm?

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26 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m not a fan of Peta’s extremism either, but I think your massage therapist is wrong about not picking this battle. Local battles are the ones we have the most power to win.

    When we pick and choose our battles – the ones closest to home make the most sense to be passionate about.

    You can’t do much about factory farming except making a personal choice to buy local meat (hardly a drop in the bucket of turkey-consumption, but at least it makes us feel good). You can do something about dropping turkeys from planes in your own community by joining forces with like-minded people.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Sarah, I agree. She didn’t say this, but I realized after I left her place that she has a small child. Perhaps it was her child who was disappointed in not getting to chase turkeys. Still, I do not understand the need to drop them from a plane first. I agree that battles are best fought locally.

  2. Alexandra says:

    Last year we had a turkey raised locally by a friend. This year I’m in LA with my son and do not even know where we will celebrate yet. I think the turkey drop is a horrible idea. Reminds me of the people who shot buffalo in the past for sport, and those who fire at wolves from airplanes. There is no justification for this type of behavior. I agree with the commenter who suggests Food, Inc. It really changes the viewer’s approach to food and is such a worthwhile film because is opens eyes on the whole process, one I was ignorant of before someone told me about this movie.

  3. Carley Ash says:

    No turkey at our house. I will make a pumpkin pie though.

    I think everyone should watch the documentary Food, Inc.
    I talked to some women last week that “didn’t want to know” how poorly the birds are treated. They said it didn’t matter if they didn’t know. I’m just amazed at people’s deliberate ignorance.

    • Kerri says:

      I agree, Carely, Food, Inc., is a real eye opener. I know many people who would just rather not know and I think that is sad. Wish I could get some of your pumpkin pie! 😉

  4. Jackie says:

    If this has been going on for 60 years, maybe that’s where the writers for WKRP got the idea. Remember the line “God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly?”

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, Jackie, I think it is. When I was researching, I read one of the cast was originally from Arkansas, so I’m sure it came from here. Pretty bad when WRKP spoofs your annual big festival.

  5. Mary Brown says:

    I ordered our turkey from the Amish Market. The meats are more expensive but I’ve started getting almost all my meat from there. It all natural free of antibiotics, hormones and preservatives. I will however donate my free grocery store turkey to the food bank.

    I could never raise and kill my own animals,I couldn’t kill them if someone else raised them so I guess I would make a lousy farmers.

    Regarding the dropping of turkeys from the plane, isn’t there a local law about cruelty to animals that should be enforced or is another case of only being livestock so it doesn’t matter?

    • Kerri says:

      We could never raise our own meat either, Mary, which is one reason it bothers me to eat it. If I’m not willing to raise and kill it, then I probably shouldn’t be hypocritical and eat it (my thoughts for myself, not for anyone else). As for the turkey drop, according to PETA, it does violate cruelty to animal laws.

      • Mary Brown says:

        I bet if NBC or one of the network news channels showed up it would stop….just a thought!

        • Kerri says:

          Mary, This thing has been happening for 60 years and it isn’t the first time controversy has come calling. The Chamber, which officially sponsored the event for many years, quit long ago. The problem is that people around here see nothing wrong with it. They don’t care if the world views them as backward and obviously don’t care that a sitcom parodied the event 30 years ago. The only thing that stopped it this year was a promise that PETA would insist people responsible be prosecuted for animal cruelty and a promise from the FAA that anyone caught throwing anything from a plane would lose their license.

  6. Kerry Dexter says:

    vegetarian Thanksgiving here.

    that said, when I was small one of my aunts raised turkeys, in what would now be called organic and sustainable ways, and it was fun to visit her. my mother always helped with turkey deliveries around holiday time, which led to memorable family stories…

  7. We just don’t have access to locally grown turkey here. I’m trying to figure out what to serve! Maybe I’ll look for a sustainably farmed one. Or maybe we’ll do pizza. 😉

    • Kerri says:

      Dale and I just aren’t that crazy about turkey. Dale is smoking a prime rib I got while in KC. Grass fed and treated humanely.

  8. I did order my turkey locally with a store that works with area farmers.

  9. Jane Boursaw says:

    Fresh turkey from a local organic farm here!

  10. I certainly wouldn’t take any kids to a place that purposefully dropped animals from a plane! And I’m not a fan of PETA’s extremes, either.
    That said, I’m not a vegetarian, and do try to eat hormone-free and naturally raised meat.

    • Kerri says:

      Believe me, Vera, if you ever saw a factory turkey farming operation, you would go only with the naturally raised stuff. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Maggi says:

    I have never heard of such a horrid tradition. How sad – really have to wonder about the parents who view this as their kids’ entertainment.

  12. Kerri says:

    Me too. Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Heather L. says:

    Still don’t understand the turkey drop. Hopefully it will go away soon.