Operation Turkey Undercover: The Frightening Truth About Your Thanksgiving Day Bird

Thanksgiving is almost here and I am so pumped. Yet, there is something about this holiday that I don’t look forward to: stuffing my face with turkey.  I just can’t bring myself to eat it given all that I’ve learned about what goes into producing that Thanksgiving Day bird of choice. I know Thanksgiving is only one day each year and if you want to eat Turkey on Thanksgiving I can’t blame you. At the same time, I just can’t sit back and let these facts go unshared.

Here’s an inside peek at some of my disturbing turkey knowledge:

(warning: stop reading here if you wish to continue consuming turkeys in naïve Thanksgiving Day bliss).

1.   46 million turkeys are raised every year just for this holiday alone. I like to think of these turkeys as big mutant cousins of the turkeys that the pilgrims ate. The turkeys on our tables are fed grossly high-calorie diets so that they grow unnaturally large at an unnaturally fast rate.  Today’s farm raised birds become so top heavy that their legs can barely hold them. Their beaks and toes are cut so that they don’t scratch each other. Mr. Modern Turkey cannot even breed naturally due to all of his malformations.

2.   Turkeys carry creepy pathogens. There’s this bug called campylobacter. It’s the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States. Campylobacter is a dangerous little critter, estimated to infect more than 2.4 million Americans each year. Turns out a whopping 90 percent of turkeys produced in America are contaminated with our friend Mr. Campylobacter.  This is a consequence of birds being housed in super crowded cages with less than three square feet of space to move and being regularly dosed with antibiotics.  Speaking of antibiotics…

3.   Turkeys produced on factory farms are fed a disturbingly large quantity of antibiotics as a routine preventive measure to ward off illnesses between them.  When you eat turkey, those antibiotics don’t suddenly disappear like Harry Houdini.   They are transferred directly to you. Oh and the bacteria that the drugs are designed to kill eventually morph into stronger, more powerful versions of themselves.  Scarily, these bugs can transform into superbugs in which we, nor the turkeys, can form a natural resistance.

4.   Turkeys are full of synthetic hormones: the turkeys sold in supermarkets are routinely pumped full of artificial hormones to promote muscle mass, and those hormones are passed directly to you if you eat it.  That might sound good to all the bodybuilders I know are reading this article, but actually excess hormones have been linked to many cancers, including breast and prostate.

5.   Turkeys are not good for your ticker.  Saturated fat has been hailed as one of the most dangerous types of fat and has been linked to heart disease and cancers.  As saturated fat is marbled throughout the muscle of turkey breasts, trimming the excess fat doesn’t do all that much to reduce the fat content.  As for cancer, a 2007 study of over 35,000 women published in the British Journal of Cancer discovered that women who ate the most meat, including turkey, were more likely to develop breast cancer than those who consumed the least.

6.   More toxins in turkey: eat turkey and you will be getting a nice helping of dioxin too.  What’s dioxin you say? Dioxin happens to be one of the most toxic chemicals known to science and is recognized as a cancer-causing demon among the scientific community.  It is estimated that 93 percent of our exposure to dioxin comes through eating animal products.

7.   Producing mass quantities of turkeys contributes to global warming and climate change in a big way:  one of our biggest environmental concerns is controlling the emission of gases into the atmosphere that get trapped and cause the greenhouse effect.  Most people associate carbon dioxide as the gas most contributing to global warming, but the gas, methane, traps 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide.  Guess what the biggest source of methane is? Yup, it’s meat production, turkeys included.  Methane emitted by livestock accounts for 20 percent of the total global methane emissions.  This is more than the methane produced from landfills, waste treatment plants, and much more methane than we use as natural gas to heat our homes!

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