Conscious Consumer: Turkeys

James Cantu

November 15th, 2017

Pictured above is the fate of thousands of turkeys this Thanksgiving season. – Photo provided by Dreamstime/TNS

It’s been roughly a year since the 2016 presidential results have been revealed, and shockingly, the majority of us are still alive. I guess that’s one thing to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I wonder if President Trump will partake in the turkey pardoning tradition that former president Obama partook in?

It seems like President Trump has a tendency to reverse everything and anything that has Obama’s name on it.

After all, President Trump has no problem pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona jail sheriff who has been convicted of criminal contempt related to his unethical tactics regarding undocumented immigrants.

It seems like Arpaio, the NRA, and major corporate chains have plenty to be thankful for during this holiday season. Everyone has a reason to be thankful. Everyone except the turkeys.

Whenever media depicts Thanksgiving, otherwise known as “Turkey Day,”  images of a table filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, greens, and cranberry sauce all surround a giant glistening bird.

What mass media forgets to depict is a reality that we like to ignore-the exploitation of thousands of humans along with the mass, inhumane slaughter of animals for the benefit of those that can afford the  products.

Let me explain, the turkey industry is dominated by three major corporations: Butterball, Jennie-O, and Cargill Value Added Meat.

The United States poultry industry made 38.7 billion dollars in 2016, and 6.18 billion was from turkeys alone, and is responsible for employing roughly 374,063 people.

In order to generate those numbers, approximately 300 million turkeys are killed every year, and the majority are forced to live out their few months of life in deplorable conditions.

Picture this: you’re born without having any contact with your mother, and after the first few weeks of life, you’re plucked from your incubator and shoved into a dark, feces filled shed with thousands of other turkeys of varying ages where you will stay until you’re fat enough for slaughter.

Animals can experience anxiety, depression, stress, and fear as they are all genetically inborn traits that aid in evolution. Emotions are not reserved just for humans.

Living in such conditions stresses the turkeys to the point where they would kill each other or stop eating and die of starvation.

In order to circumvent this, farmers would cut off parts of their toes, beaks, and if it’s male, the “snood” (the little red flap under the turkey’s beak) to prevent fighting-all without anesthesia.

Along with body parts being cut off, the turkeys are so genetically manipulated and drugged up to the point that they can not reproduce naturally anymore, simply because they are just too big.

According to PETA, “modern turkeys grow so quickly that if a 7-pound human baby grew at the same rate, the infant would weigh 1,500 pounds at just 18 weeks of age.”

Not only are the turkeys being inhumanly treated, the workers are being exploited too.

The majority of workers in the poultry plants are undocumented immigrants who are paid below living wage to work in unsafe conditions. They are unable to fight for safer working conditions or fair pay.

Listen, I’m not trying to convince you all to go vegetarian, vegan, or somehow magically be able to undergo photosynthesis all in order to circumvent the consumption of meat.

What I am trying to do is spread awareness on where exactly our money goes, what our money inadvertently supports, and the knowledge that we have the choice to continue supporting those industries.

Thanksgiving turkey is a tradition deeply rooted in American society, but maybe instead of picking up a Butterball, if you’re able to, shell out on a more ethically raised and sustainable brand. Or, just ditch the meat all together. But that’s a different topic for a different article.

James Cantu

Opinions Editor

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