FROM SLAUGHTER TO TABLE : THE TRUTH BEHIND THE TURKEY

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Claire Stinger, Editor

Last year on Thanksgiving the traditional favorite, Turkey, was consumed by nearly 88% of Americans (University of Illinois). This means that around forty-six million turkeys were consumed on Thanksgiving Day in America alone. In 1621 the first documentation of turkeys being consumed on Thanksgiving was recorded, and since then the numbers have skyrocketed. Traditions like making turkeys from tracing children’s hands on paper, and breaking the wishbone have been around for years. All of these traditions are promoting the mass slaughter of Turkeys every year around the holidays, primarily around Thanksgiving.

When reflecting on your Thanksgiving dinner, think about how long it is. Maybe one hour, two hours, three hours, or in some cases you may gather around the table for four or more hours. According to The Food Empowerment Project Organization a slaughterhouse is capable of killing 360 turkeys per minute. If a slaughterhouse reaches its full potential, within one hour of your Thanksgiving dinner nearly 21,600 turkeys will be slaughtered. This statistic alone is enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth. However, if it does not, there are a few more things to think about before you throw your dead animal in the oven this year. 

Turkeys, regardless of the negative connotations that surround them, are intriguing animals. In your eyes, your pet cat is likely one of the most precious creatures you have ever seen and is even more precious when it purrs. I am sure you did not know, however, that a female turkey purrs as well… yes … purrs. These unique creatures are also capable of, when found in the wild, flying for up to a mile. They are also capable of hearing certain sounds that humans are unable to hear. Turkeys are also known to become fond of, and even gain an attachment to the people around them during their two to three year life expectancy. 

If you’re still thinking about putting that turkey in the oven, let’s talk about production, from its birth to your kitchen table. From the minute a factory farmed turkey is born, it is taken from its mother and placed in an incubator where it will hatch. At this point, its timer starts. Our turkey in question will not see past the age of five months, and will only see five months if it is lucky. Once they can survive outside of the incubator, parts of their beaks and toes are chopped off without any anesthetic, and they are thrown into a barn with thousands of other turkeys. While contained in these barns, many of the turkeys will die from stress, obtain skin conditions due to high concentrated levels of ammonia, and even go blind. Once turkeys reach the size and weight that they need to be for slaughter, they are violently loaded onto trucks, dislocating and breaking limbs in the process. They then reach the slaughter house, this is where the timer stops. Most turkeys are hung upside down, shocked by electric water baths and will have their throats slit. However it is a common occurrence for the turkeys to not be knocked unconscious and be slaughtered alive. At this point they can be processed and sent to the greasy hands of thousands of Americans to enjoy. 

So before you break the wishbone this thanksgiving, think of all the bones in this poor creature’s body that had to have been broken to get this turkey to your table. As you shave meat off the turkey, think of all of the years shaved off of the turkey’s life. Don’t be afraid to cut the turkey out of the traditions this year. I promise you it will all be the same. Happy Thanksgiving.