Sunday, November 23, 2008

Turkey Death

Last week, in my applied ethics class, we were talking about animal rights, and because I wanted to connect the topic to students’ experiences, I did some research into the lives the birds that nearly everyone will be eating on Thanksgiving, and after being a bit surprised by a few accounts of how the lives of so-called “free-range” birds isn’t all that great, I ran across information about a place up in Everett, Home Acres, where the farmer, Bruce King, doesn’t keep his birds in a barn at all but rather, lets them wander about in a fenced field until the day of their demise, which struck me as a lot more like the Michael Pollan ideal of food animals that live a relatively “creaturely” existence, or as Farmer King put it, “a pretty good life, then one bad day.”

It turns out that Home Acres was “processing” birds today and interested parties could show up, pick out a bird, and, with the help of people who worked there, take the animal from living thing to oven-ready foodstuff.

I had floated the idea by Mimi on Tuesday, and what she wanted to know was whether we would get to shoot the birds, but even after finding out that that wasn’t the killing methodology (we stunned ours in barrel filled with inert gas, then slit its throat), she was still game, so this morning the two of us spent about three hours killing, plucking, and butchering a 13-pound heritage turkey which will be the centerpiece our Thanksgiving dinner.

As a longtime vegetarian, I wanted to be witness to the process if I’m going to eat bird on Thursday and while today’s experience neither particularly grossed me out no inured me to the animals’ plight, I think it helped me appreciate what’s involved for both meat producers and their products, especially when my arm was in the bird up to the elbow and I was pulling out entrails.

5 Comments:

Blogger MichaelR said...

A long term vegetarian? Not if you're eating bird this week.

4:22 PM  
Blogger dashap said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

I admire your ethical choice of killing your own - whether it's vegetarian or not! I have cut my own xmas tree, but not gassed my own turkey. The farmer that I get my bird from has a little vid abut his turkeys' short but happy lives -
http://che.nelson.wisc.edu/trailers/turkeys.shtml

9:16 AM  
Blogger mork the delayer said...

They blogged about you too:

Turkey processing class

9:54 AM  
Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

Wow, pictures of Dave & Mimi & all -

10:14 PM  

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