How Green Was Your Turkey

Now that we are all turkeyed out over the long Thanksgiving weekend I want you to think about whether or not you bought and prepared an environmentally correct turkey. There were the good old days when one bought a frozen turkey, thawed it out, removed giblets, washed it inside and out, stuffed it, cooked it, carved it, ate it, made sandwiches, made hash, made soup. One bird provided a month of comestibles.

Nothing remains the same in the new millennium. We are a greener, more concerned nation, now, and that concern extends to turkeys and whether they live at least as well as we do. My daughter and my grandchildren are environmentalists. The turkey they sent me out to buy had to be… well, not only politically correct, but since we have a Democrat in the White House the bird had to come from a blue state.

“New York is a blue state,” I said, “and New York City is the bluest of cities. Will you pay my travel expenses to buy a Broadway bird along with a couple of tickets for “Jersey Boys?”

“No. I don’t think there are any significant turkey farms in Manhattan,” she said, California is a blue state, too, so you can get one right here.”

“I’m surprised you even eat turkey because they all look like former New York Senator Al D’Amato, and he was a Republican.”

“A California turkey will do just fine” daughter dear said, “and make sure it wasn’t confined to a small space. And it has to be organic.”

Oh, my daughter, she would never have survived where I grew up. We were five boys who slept in our own confined small room. Four of us slept in two sets of bunk beds, while the oldest son got his own bed. Now I was being challenged to find a turkey that did not have to share a bedroom, let alone sleep on the top bunk. And it had to be organic.

There is so much blather about things organic. I’m not sure what organic means, so I looked it up: “raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones or synthetic chemicals.” OK. The turkey had to come from a blue state but couldn’t have gone to Woodstock. Organic also means: “constituting an integral part of a whole; fundamental.” Maybe Esalen sells turkeys.

“I need an organic turkey,” I said to counterman, who wore a starched white apron, purple exam gloves and an Al Gore-approved hair net.

“All of our turkeys are organic,” he told me.

“Oh, and it has to be free-range.”


He reached into the display case and brought out a turkey wearing a hazmat suit that was resistant to chemical permeation.

“He wasn’t cooped up or anything like that, was he?” I asked.

“This bird came from a farm where it had its own free-range play area. It spent much of the day swaying in a hammock being fed organic grapes by a former Peace Corps member.”

“Do you know whether he lived according to ‘green’ principles?”

Strangely the carnivore dissector person (Butcher is too pejorative now with some harsh connotations)  wasn’t surprised by my questions. After all, we were on the border of Pacific Grove. He looked both ways, then leaned halfway across the counter.

“Mister, this bird had his own nontoxic Fisher-Price toys.”

“Was there a spirit of sensitivity at the turkey farm?”

“Even the roosters undergo sensitivity and anger-management training.”

I needed to know one more thing.

“How did he die? It’s important to my grandchildren that it had a good life — and a good death.”

He nodded that he understood. His compassion belied someone used to wrapping his hands around sweetbreads.

“Lethal injection.”


“Yes, the turkeys think they’re going to eagle school and need to be sedated for the trip to Miramar Naval Air Base.”

“That is humane. Could he have escaped his fate?”

“You mean the Super Committee?”


“I guess, then, he really never had a chance.”




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