Every Thanksgiving, PETA scolds the country about eating turkey. Here’s this year’s beef. For what it’s worth, I think factory farming can be a nasty business indeed.
Pardon me, pilgrim: This Thanksgiving, ditch the dead bird
By Chris Holbein
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
If tradition holds, President Obama will soon “pardon” two turkeys — the “National Thanksgiving Turkey” and a backup — in a much-publicized ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.
I’m not sure what misdeeds turkeys raised for food need to be pardoned for, since most of them spend their entire lives crammed into filthy, windowless warehouses where they can barely take a step. But let’s not quibble: We should all follow the president’s lead and pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving.
Animal behaviorists tell us that turkeys are intelligent, social birds who enjoy the company of others. According to one poultry scientist, “If you throw an apple to a group of turkeys, they’ll play with it together.”
Turkeys are also loving, protective parents who are very bonded to their young. In the wild, turkey chicks stay with their mothers for up to five months, and a mother turkey will courageously defend her family against predators.
The story is very different for turkeys on factory farms.
Fatter turkeys mean fatter wallets for farmers, so these gentle birds are bred and drugged to grow so large so fast that their legs can’t even support their own weight. Many turkeys become crippled as a result — and some slowly starve to death within inches of food because they are unable to move. When PETA conducted an undercover investigation at one of the world’s largest turkey-breeding companies, a farm supervisor described the male breeding birds as “80 pounds on toothpicks.”
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