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Turkey as Metaphor

Wow, I’ve never seen turkeys being slaughtered before. I’m one of those people who operates with my fingers in my ears, saying la,la,la,la over and over again until the truth teller goes away. My meat is grown on Styrofoam. There have been a couple times in the recent past, however, that caused me to erase my vote for eating meat. One was a newscast showing how Foie Gras was actually made. Stretching a goose throat and forcing it to feed was horrifying. I’ve never ordered it, but never complained about it either. This turkey slaughter debacle was the other. Shoving a turkey head first into a machine that punctures, then drains the turkey of its life blood was not easy to watch. “Well, where do you think turkey dinner comes from?” I ask myself as I’ve asked my students through the years. Seeing it was something different.

When we talk to children about rural vs. city life, the discussion is always steered to farms. Every year there are kids who look absolutely stupefied when asked where things like bacon, hot dogs and hamburgers come from. One child, when asked the origin of pork, yelled out “Chickens!” with a weird sense of certainty. Another was convinced ham was from cows, hamburger was from pigs and fish were declared to have sprung from…fish. One for four.

In the interest of full disclosure, I think we have a responsibility to understand, and pass on the understanding to our children that when we eat meat, something had to die. We need to connect the living things of the world with, if nothing else, acknowledgement. I’m not for making people feel guilty about what they choose to eat, or not eat and I’m sure I’ll be diving in to a nice grilled steak sometime soon. I’m not, nor have ever been a vegetarian. Meatloaf reminds me of my childhood, shrimp cocktails preclude special events, hot dogs and burgers bring families, tailgaters and neighborhoods together. But I think killing is starting to get to me, on every level.

At the very least, we all owe it to ourselves to think about it. So thanks, Sarah. You gave me pause for thought. Your thinking still scares the hell out of me, but this was a good wake-up slap across the face. If only the executioner would have taken a moment to thank each animal for its sacrifice, maybe it would have felt a little different. But then, it's not about me. From now on when I talk with kids about where food comes from, I’ll be sure to put a bit more heart in it.

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