October 11, 2008

Turkey Day on the Horizon

Looking through the materials I picked up at West Coast Green a few weeks ago reminds me - I better think about ordering a turkey. If you want one that is organic, kosher, or heritage, a little extra planning is called for. In my case, the most important factor is that the big bird led a decent life, preferably outdoors, pecking in the grass and procreating naturally.

Unfortunately, as I learned from reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, less than 1% of the 400 million turkeys eaten in America each year are the bird we imagine a turkey to be. The single breed raised by industrial-style 'agribusiness" have had flying, foraging, and mating bred out of them. They live their lives in big sheds (if you open a door at one end, the USDA lets you label them "free range"), existing strictly to become meat.

At the conference's tradeshow, I ran into Jason Diestel staffing a booth for Lyngso Garden Materials. He had buckets of mulch and compost on display, including some made with manure from his family's turkeys. Diestel Turkey Ranch calls their birds "range grown" because they spend their days outdoors in the Sierra Nevada foothills, coming in from the pasture to sleep safely in their turkey houses. Unless I can find as happy a bird raised closer to home, I'll be roasting a Diestel this year.

1 comment:

sustainablecow said...

Hi there fellow green blogger,

Did you end up having a Diestel turkey or finding something greener? I ended up with a Diestel heirloom collection turkey this year but it worries me that Diestel turkeys were everywhere. I'm trying to find out if Diestel can be considered agri-business. I know they are family owned, but a family farm these days are quite big and I saw Diestel turkeys in many markets, including Whole Foods, which is known for buying from agri-business organics.

Thanks for any help you may be able to provide!