Talking Turkey

November 23rd, 2005 by

As many of us prepare to sit down to a turkey dinner, my thoughts turn toward the 30 million birds we will eat and the people who raise them. If you assume that a turkey’s life is not one of pure pleasure, you’re right. According to the largest turkey farmer in Michigan, the birds are incapable of participating in their own reproduction: all insemination is artificial, because the birds’s large breasts render them incapable of doing what needs to be done. Too bad for the turkeys.
Here is another tidbit from the Kauffman Turkey Farm website:
Q. Is it true that turkeys grow so fast they collapse under their own weight?
A. Not in my experience. Last year we raised some of our toms to dress at 40+ pounds and we walked them up to the plant.
As for what happens to them in the plant, well, if you’re a turkey, you really don’t want to know.
Raising turkeys
There are a lot of safety issues for people engaged in the work of raising turkeys. The larger the farm, the greater the hazards. The International Labor Organization has outlined an extensive list of hazards and safety issues, which include the following:
Poultry Farm Workers may contract, from the fowl in their care, infectious diseases that are common to fowl and man. (The CDC suspects that a few farm workers caught the West Nile virus a couple of years ago from turkeys – and not from the usual source, mosquitoes).
The atmosphere in poultry farms usually contains significant levels of agricultural dust and toxic gases, which put the workers at a health risk.
Some chemicals used at poultry farms (for disinfection, etc.) may cause harm to workers’ health.
The Poultry Farm Worker’s work is often physically difficult and involves handling heavy loads, uncomfortable postures and movements. This may cause traumas (including falls), back, arms and hands pains.
It takes a lot of hard work to bring that bird to your table. Let’s include these folks in our pre-dinner grace.
Thoughts Before Dozing
As part of our relentless effort to inform, we would like to explain why you are going to feel tired tomorrow after finishing your dinner and homemade pie (if you are lucky enough to have a pie maker in your extended family). The drowsiness will stem from a combination of blissful overeating and the amino acid l-typtophan, which occurs naturally in turkeys. L-tryptophan produces a calming effect, similar to that of a warm glass of milk. Sometime when you are hungry, instead of a warm glass of milk before bedtime, try a turkey sandwich.
On that note, the Insider wishes all of our readers a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.