Thursday, February 19, 2009

Turkeys

I'm reading a book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. It's an interesting read about one family's endeavor to eat local for one year. They do have a firm foundation in healthy eating habits, and an intimate knowledge of gardening well before their local-vore adventure begins, which is slightly disappointing, but nevertheless; the information within holds my attention.

One fact that has jumped out at me is their Turkey choice. They've chosen to raise their own poultry for this adventure, something I'm not sure I could do (How do you not name an animal you interact with daily?) but, then again, I have trouble eating something I knew used to have a pulse, brain waves, and communication skills. The troubling aspect was the cited fact that around 98% of the turkeys sold annually (from the deli and freezer cases) have been bred for some rather unique qualities.

They are docile. They won't put up a fight at cramped conditions, and don't mind being half crushed for half of their lives.
Their lifespan is limited. If permitted to reach full growth, and wander around, the sheer "normal" weight of their bodies will crush their legs and ultimately, their chest. This, I imagine, provides a rather slow and painful death.
Most disturbing of all; they are incapable of procreating naturally. In fact, there are technicians who are skilled in surgically removing the male's sperm and inseminating the female.

Folks...Americans eat these monstrosities. In fact, we consider them prized fixings. Meanwhile, the days of the wild turkey (the bird that found itself on the table during our first Thanksgiving feast) is in danger of extinction. Varieties of poultry and livestock are not only losing popularity, they are disappearing almost as quickly as the rainforest lands can be cleared to make room for more livestock grazing land.

How is it healthy to eat the flesh of a critter that would not have survived another month if mankind hadn't put it out of it's misery? At least, when that misery is inflicted by mankind's lack of appropriate nourishment and attention?

We play G-d with animals, with plants, with our food supply. We pretend we can outwit mother nature in an operating room, with modern medical miracles. But we don't see the bigger picture. Someday we're going to wake up and realize that we ourselves are dying, and it will be at our own hand.

My kids are growing up in a world that I've helped create. It scares me half to death to think of the problems that I'm leaving behind for them and their children to clean up after. The more I learn, the more disturbed I become. It's not just pollution, global warming, and generations of poor nutrition and the loss of integral health knowledge (our food shouldn't be bright blue) that they need to bounce back from. They're also going to be contending with rampant wild strains of genetically modified and mutated crops, franken-turkeys who can't procreate, massive extinctions and mutations. They'll be cleaning waterways and seeking safe, fertile farmland.

I can see it unfolding like the Ghost of Christmas Future. And we have to do something. More than I am already.

1 comment:

Noe said...

My dad used to work on a turkey farm. In fact, he was one of those guys who would artificially inseminate the little buggers. This was years ago-before we were even sparkles in the corners of eyes.

You hit on a big reason that I didn't want to have kids and was more comfortable with adoption. With all that's going (wr)on(g) in this world why bring another person into it?

But all we can do is the best we can and hope that they grow up and make better choices than we did... Kinda like our parents probably hoped for us! lol