week 12: why your turkey choice matters

There are all kinds of new studies out showing that animals are far more emotive–beyond the fight-or-flight instincts that send my bunny hiding under furniture–than we ever imagined. While animal cruelty wasn’t the main reason I went vegetarian years ago, and while I think animal husbandry can be humane, this video is a reminder that our food system is, well, terrifying.

I don’t normally post things like this. They’re horrifying, and I can rarely sit through them. They often have a tinge of moral superiority that I don’t like. But in time for the holidays, and in a time when local agriculture is increasingly accessible, I felt the need to share this video, a look at the industrial system onwhich we have come to depend.

I do not blame the employees. I don’t think that they are patently horrible people. I think that if you are put in a situation where animals are treated like lifeless entities, you find ways to distance yourself, cope and justify that environment.

For this, and for so many other (environmental, health and ethical) reasons, I can’t bring myself to eat meat I can’t source. Was my turkey expensive? Yes. Is it something that everyone can manage? Admittedly not. But we have to find another way, and until those of us who can do better start doing better, it won’t improve for those most in need.

Allow me one more moment of persuasion: We’re used to buying fruit at the grocery that looks just like the fruit it’s sitting next to. We worry about what is breeding in the bruised bits, what’s missing when it’s not shiny, what causes it to be oddly shaped. We won’t eat it. We’re afraid the fruit has become tainted. So how, when looking at the abuse, the damage, the poor health in which these animals do we still see them as a viable, healthful form of protein?

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About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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4 Responses to week 12: why your turkey choice matters

  1. Mark says:

    Terrifying. I absolutely hate these videos. But I’m thankful you posted it.

    • meganbetz says:

      I HATE videos like this. I don’t usually think they’re productive, and as a journalist… I know that undercover can be manipulated (à la Food Lion). But this is so common. And so tragic, gross & cruel.

  2. Calley Mersmann says:

    I didn’t watch the video because I’m a wimp. BUT I had the exact same thought about damaged fruits/vegetables and sick animals while listening to Michael Pollan describe tumor and abscess rates from animals coming from CAFOs (as high as 70% from some facilities!!). Why is that ok, but we won’t eat an apple with a few cosmetic blemishes?

    • meganbetz says:

      It’s really surprising, but again just points to the power of industrial agriculture & their ability to keep a lid on their practices. We can see the blemishes on the apples… but many of us never see CAFOs or what the meat looks like before it’s parceled into pounds and wrapped in butcher paper. Craziness.

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