More than 250 million turkeys are slaughtered in the industrial system each year in the United States, and about 46 million of those are for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful, warm holiday, full of family time, great traditions and good food. Unfortunately, there are many not-so-good things about the Thanksgiving turkeys most grocery stores offer to their customers.
The status quo for raising turkeys and other meat birds is the industrial, factory farming system. The conditions in which factory farmed turkeys are raised is horrendous. It’s cramped, with each bird given about 3 feet of space to live its life. So that these cramped and stressed turkeys won’t turn to pecking at each other, prior to confinement their beaks and the tips of their toes are cut off (processes some liken to having the tips of a child’s fingers and toes chopped off). These turkeys, raised in gigantic warehouses, are denied their natural instincts and can’t eat their natural diet of seeds, vegetation and insects. They’re also bred to grow so rapidly that it puts an incredible strain on their bodies. Some researchers estimate that factory farmed turkeys spend at least a third of their lives in chronic pain.
The good news is that there are plenty of farmers out there raising turkeys naturally on pasture—and with respect. To find a healthy, delicious turkey that was ethically and sustainably raised for your Thanksgiving table, check out these resources:
Search Eat Wild’s state directory of farmers. Simply click on your state on the yellow map and read about farmers selling turkeys, other meats, eggs and dairy products from pastured animals in your area.
You can also search Local Harvest for farmers selling pastured turkeys in your area.
Another simple option is to stop by a farmers market this weekend and see whether any of the vendors are taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys.
For related tips, please visit Welcome to Our (Sustainable) Thanksgiving Table.
Photo by Fotolia/msheldrake