Image source: tomelko.com
It is Thanksgiving! Almost! That means that I get to categorize some time under "NOT studying." Hooray for breaks!
I will, however, spend at least some of my time writing a monster of a paper on the internationalization of food sources and its domestic impact. In addition to the mountain of academic essays I'm reading on this topic, I picked up Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemna." The chapters on factory farming (animals included) were enlightening. He didn't get to go into the meat-packing plants, but that doesn't stop an Upton Sinclair-like revelation from taking hold in the reader's mind. Now I think of what's in every bite I eat. I don't eat meat, anyway, but it makes me a little worried about what's going to be in my family's Thanksgiving turkey.
I've eaten turkey on Thanksgiving in the past, and I suppose I'm going to do it again this year. But now I've got a whole lot of good reasons NOT to eat it (as well as more than a few good reason TO eat it).
The sake of tradition is one reason TO eat it. I'm not going to call it a good one because, well, traditions aren't always good! There's probably a reason we DON'T sacrifice a goat on special occasions anymore, sacrificing a turkey to symbolize whatever great Columbian Exchange happened when cultures collided way back when doesn't make much sense to me. Is Tofurkey really such sacrilege? What about chinese food? What about ice pops? Which matters more for this holiday: a specific food or family? I suppose that depends on who you ask.
Another reason TO eat it: everyone else will be eating it. Whether I partake at the table or not, that turkey's gonna get roasted and served. Our dog, Baxter, even succeeded in partaking last year (by way of snatching a significant portion of the turkey that remained on the kitchen counter after it had been carved). Should I just eat it to avoid any uncomfortable discussions about global warming/carbon emissions that result from the meat industry and/or animal rights? How far can I go in practicing my beliefs that I am not a hypocrite AND will I be seen as a "not hypocrite" or will I be seen as a "CRAZY GODLESS LIBERAL OH MY GOD WHY WON'T SHE JUST EAT SOME MEAT?" Families are weird like that, dude. They can know you for a long time and then all of a sudden think "WHO is this and HOW THE HELL are we related??"
But what about that factory farming? Can I reconcile the intimate knowledge I have of Jaindl turkey farms with eating a turkey? I drove past the turkey sheds EVERY DAY on my way to and from school. If I know the smell of their slaughter, can I sincerely divorce that from what sits on the Thanksgiving table? I honestly don't know. It's easy enough not to think "cow!" when one eats a burger, so would this be any harder?
And those carbon emissions!! Is it more damaging to let food go to waste (i.e. uneaten) on account of my belief or should I do my part to decrease landfill input and just eat me a hunk of tasty animal flesh? It IS tasty, I will admit. But so is bacon. And you're not going to catch me reconciling eating something that processed with my vegetarianism/environmentalism.
So maybe what I am trying to say is that I am probably going to wing it and see if there's going to be a ton of turkey left over (we'll see if Baxter gets any this year) before I dig my fork in past the potatoes/cranberry sauce/green beans/bread. If there is, I'ma do my environmental part and dig in. If not, the vegetarian wins and gets to say, "I abstain, dudes, hear that? ABSTAIN."
Famed poet/performer/rapper/writer Saul Williams has got a really good MySpace post on this subject. I highly encourage you to READ IT.
Actually, no. What I am trying to say is HAPPY THANKSGIVING and try to eat responsibly, y'all.