Jolley: My Thanksgiving Wish

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This summer, I spent ‘Five Minutes with Adele Douglass,’ the founder of Humane Farm Animal Care. You can read the interview by clicking here. Of all the groups calling for improved animal welfare, I thought HFAC was the most down-to-earth. Unlike some groups that seem to want to give farm animals equal rights with humans or spend a lot of time and money trying to get “gotcha!” tapes and slander the entire industry, Adele & Co. seemed to be friends of the family.


I thought HFAC was immune to the buzzwords and hot buttons being pimped by the likes of HSUS and their ‘twins-separated at birth” cohorts over at PETA. Alas, an e-mail message I received from them this morning seems to prove me wrong.

It was a plea for funds, one of the many we all get this time of year. Tied to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, it highlighted most of the usual hysteria – antibiotics, chemicals, and stressful environments.

The note talked about ‘Sheila from Wisconsin’ who ‘was tired of hearing about antibiotics and other scary stuff that she didn’t want her kids eating, and she thought her family deserved better.’ It lamented that no turkeys could be found that were pure of heart and breast and leg and thigh. Sadly, ‘This year her family will have to eat a chemical-filled turkey.’

Not a word in the note mentioned that what Sheila was tired of hearing was something she shouldn’t believe, anyway. The kids won’t be eating antibiotics and (gasp!) chemicals unless good old Sheila puts them in the bird before she pops it in the oven. I’m not sure what that other scary stuff might be but I do know words and phrases like these are loaded with symbolism designed to frighten, not enlighten.

Then, I was introduced to Tom, a princely turkey. Tom has a good life because he wasn’t ‘force -fed antibiotics and other chemicals and he isn’t subjected to a stressful environment. He can flap his wings and move around, he can perch above the ground at night, and he eats nutritious food that doesn’t contain chemicals and hormones.’

And I was asked ‘Doesn’t your family deserve a turkey raised like Tom, instead of a cruel and inhumane life?”

I deserve a turkey that was fed a balanced diet, overseen by experts in their field. If antibiotics are necessary to keep young Tom healthy until he grows to harvesting age, so be it. I don’t want young Tom and his flock of friends to suffer and die needlessly with illnesses that can be prevented with a little assist from modern science.

I deserve a turkey with the same ‘chemical’ and hormonal makeup that it was born with and I trust the growers and my friends at the harvesting facilities and my neighborhood supermarket to deliver that bird to me. The one chemical I’ll add just before I dig in will be a sprinkling of sodium chloride.

Here is the important chemistry of my meal – a 4 ounce serving, which is equivalent to a quarter-pounder, will give me 42% of the protein I need for the day and slide 170 calories under my belt. I’m already planning on seconds so those two slabs of tasty breast meat will get me to 84% of my protein requirements, not bad for just 340 calories. 

I know the mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and green bean casserole and pumpkin pie will put me way over the USDA prescribed limit. So sue me. It’s turkey day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, especially to those hard-working people that helped put that turkey and all the trimmings on my table again this year. Just like they’ve always done.

Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Cattlenetwork.com and Agnetwork.com.


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