He is the belle of the ball; the guest of honor. The main course of today’s American Thanksgiving feast however, is far from anything early Americans would have readily eaten. As consumption rises so must production; with production so must efficiency. Unfortunately efficient is not always humane; efficient is not always pretty.
I often focus on the inherent good in supporting local growers here, in so doing what is left unsaid however, is the inherent evil in not. The health of the local economy, the strengthening of communities, the forging of bonds; these things should be enough. They should be motivation to frequent farmer’s markets instead of chain supermarkets, to purchase vegetables from road-side stands rather than South American imports, but sometimes they’re not. Sometimes being aware of the consequences of choosing to do otherwise trumps. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Those nearest and dearest to me know better than to get me started on Factory Farming. They know that while I am not at all soft-hearted, that while I will butcher and eat the livestock I’ve raised from babies myself, I also am vehemently opposed to the factory production of meat both in the U.S. and abroad.
They know that I feel strongly that, as Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Turkey program points out, one square foot of space is not enough for a bird to sleep in, let alone live. But also know that I am much too fond of my holiday traditions and leftover turkey sandwiches to give up Turkey — or any meat, for that matter — entirely. Tofurkey may work for some, but for me there is nothing like carving into a nicely browned turkey on Thanksgiving day. And that too, is okay.
The question of filling the biggest platter at the table on Thanksgiving day, after all, does not need to be a yes or no answer. When it comes to sourcing a humanely raised bird, there exists many shades of gray; shades that you’ve probably seen displayed loudly if you’ve been shopping your farmer’s markets lately. Now, if you haven’t already, is the time to order your holiday bird!
If you’re not already in contact with a small, local poultry farm check Local Harvest’s Heritage Turkey directory for potential producers. Or, call a processing plant in your area, many can point you in the direction of a farmer whose operation fits your needs and desires! Whatever you do, don’t delay — many farms are already sold out!