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Pay No Attention to That Turkey Being Slaughtered

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Posing for photographers with her felled caribou, her child inches from its bleeding mouth, Sarah Life-Is-Precious Palin is not confused about where meat comes from.

So the turkey being slaughtered in full view of the camera as she conducted an interview at Triple D Farms in Wasilla this week probably doesn’t phase her.

But most Americans don’t want to see the transformations their turkey went through to get to their Thanksgiving dinner table.

How it lived, how it was shipped, who hung the struggling bird upside down on the conveyer to transport it to the awaiting blade, et cetera–are not thoughts that improve the taste of the cranberry sauce.

Nor will the economy get so bad people will have to take jobs as “live hangers” like Sam, not his real name, last year.

“Today I saw about 50 dead turkeys on the trucks, and about 80 live birds fell onto the floor,” he writes in a diary he kept while working at House of Raeford Farms in Raeford, NC, the seventh largest turkey producer in the US.

“A worker tried to throw a turkey up to the double-sided dock from its rail side. The bird was about to hit the rail when another worker kneed the bird and then kicked it, knocking it back down to the floor. The worker threw the turkey a second time, but it hit the underside of the dock and dropped straight down to the cement floor for its third time that day. The bird lay in watery feces for about two hours before being picked up and hung on the line – the turkey could keep its head up and blink; it was otherwise motionless.”

Mom or Grandma may put hours of care into roasting, basting, stuffing and perfecting their butter brown bird.

But care is not the operant word at the slaughter house as workers throw, swing and “box” at the birds as they unload trucks in video Sam shot.

One worker holds a turkey to be crushed under a truck’s moving tires just for the heck of it; others pull heads and legs off turkeys for fun.

Workers insert their fingers into birds’ cloacae (vaginal cavities), remove eggs and throw them at each other in a depraved game.
Because turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly, their legs can’t support their own weight and many arrive with broken and dislocated limbs says Sam. When you try to remove them from their crates, their legs twist completely around, offering no resistance–useless and limp.

The turkeys must be in a lot of pain but they don’t cry out, observes Sam. In fact the only sound you hear as you hang them, he says, is the “trucks being washed out to go back and get a new load.”

Most people admit they don’t want to watch laws or 40 pound Thanksgiving turkey carcasses made.

Nor do they want to watch a helpless turkey unceremoniously fed into a wood chipper behind Sarah Palin’s head as KTUU TV broadcast.

But will they eat the same bird when it is passed to them on a plate next to mashed potatoes on Thursday? You betcha.

MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

 

 

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

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