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By now, most of us know that the Thanksgiving story we had been fed as youngsters strays just a little too far from the facts. And the commercialization of Christmas has been a sizzling matter for almost a century. Most of us attempt to keep away from the pitfalls and honor the vacations as seasonal celebrations and alternatives to apply gratitude and giving. But celebrating is just a little tougher should you suspect that your celebratory feast is inflicting hurt. Fortunately, it’s doable to feast in accordance with your values, proper right down to the long-lasting turkey on the heart of the desk.
Skip the Turkey
One of the commonest reactions new vegetarians hear is the horrified exclamation, “But what about Thanksgiving?!” The rise of meat alternatives makes it simpler for some individuals, however Thanksgiving is already one of many best days of the yr to be a vegetarian. With actually dozens of conventional, hearty, seasonal facet dishes to select from (salads, squash soup, potatoes with mushroom gravy, Brussels sprouts, garlic inexperienced beans, and so many pies), vegetarians can pile their plates and stuff their faces with out lacking the primary dish in any respect.
But even when conventional principal dishes rule in your home, with just a little planning, you’ll be able to add gratitude that your vacation turkey had a wholesome, completely happy life.
Choose Humanely Raised Turkey
Although many individuals really feel that animal agriculture is inherently inhumane, everybody can agree that some farming methods are kinder than others. There are quite a few certification methods for humanely-raised meat. Only two third-party labeling methods require animals to be pasture-raised, that’s, grown primarily open air: Animal Welfare Approved and Global Animal Partnership, steps 4 and 5.
All domesticated turkeys descend from wild turkeys indigenous to North and South America. But a few centuries of domestication developed many various breeds, most of which at the moment are going extinct (or already gone). Nearly the entire turkeys you can see on the grocery retailer belong to one in every of two breeds. Like the Red Delicious apple, these Broad Breasted White and Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys meet the wants of business producers greater than shoppers. And they’re not in a position to stay like regular turkeys. Heritage breeds are naturally mating, in a position to breed for a number of seasons, and slow-growing. Any farm that provides heritage breeds is doing greater than defending biodiversity. It can also be providing its birds a greater life than their extra industrial counterparts.
Look for Organic Certification
Conventionally farmed turkey is already one of many more sustainable meats. Look for USDA Organic certification to ensure your chicken has even much less environmental affect. A certified organic turkey might have been bought from a traditional hatchery, however it would have been grown on organically managed land with 100% natural feed and won’t have obtained routine antibiotics, a apply that contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant micro organism.
Even pasture-raised turkeys require supplemental feed – often corn and soybeans. Organic feed is necessary as a result of standard corn farming contributes to air pollution and the Gulf dead zone and soy contributes to world deforestation.
Pasture-raised turkeys are absolutely happier birds, however with out of doors livestock come extra environmental considerations. Paddock rotation is a crucial apply for sustaining wholesome soil in a free-range livestock operation.
Greenwashing is rampant when searching for poultry, together with turkey. Beware of meaningless labels like “cage-free” (which solely applies to eggs; meat birds are by no means caged). “Hormone-free” can also be universally true of turkeys, for the reason that USDA forbids treating turkeys with hormones. Unless a turkey is licensed natural or labeled “USDA Process Verified,” don’t belief antibiotic-free labels both.
Find a Local Farmer
Labels like USDA Organic and Animal Welfare Approved might be very useful find a extra sustainable turkey. But among the most sustainably raised birds might not have any labels in any respect. Very small farms usually don’t have the assets for certification. But they do have the benefit of genuine dialog. You can speak to your farmer instantly, and typically even go to the farm, to search out out precisely how they elevate and slaughter their birds. Finding a neighborhood farmer can take some work; test along with your regionally owned grocer, go to your nearest farmers’ market, and even look online. Once you discover a farm you belief, you’ll be able to construct a years-long relationship and begin a brand new vacation custom.
Whatever chicken you purchase, food waste is one side of your vacation turkey which you could management, and it has a global impact. Don’t purchase an even bigger chicken than you’ll be able to end, use these leftovers, and compost the remaining. And should you actually need to management how sustainable your vacation turkey is, you’ll be able to even be the farmer your self. Raising turkeys just isn’t so very completely different from elevating backyard chickens.