Turkey Menfolk

The longer I think about a food industry organized around an animal that cannot reproduce itself without technical assistance, the more I mistrust it. Poultry, a significant part of the modern diet, is emblematic of the whole dirty deal. Having no self-sustaining bloodlines to back up the industry is like having no gold standard to underpin paper currency. Maintaining a naturally breeding poultry flock is a rebellion, at the most basic level, against the wholly artificial nature of how foods are produced.

I was the rebel, that was my cause. I had more than just sentimental reasons for wanting to see my turkey hens brood and hatch their own babies, however unlikely that might be. I plowed on through my antique reference for more details on nesting and brooding, and what I might do to be a helpful midwife, other than boiling water or putting a knife under the bed. My new turkey-sex manual got better and better. “Male turkeys,” I read, “can be forced to broodiness by first being made drowsy, e.g. by an ample dose of brandy, and then being put on a nest with eggs. After recovery from the hangover, broodiness is established. This method was used extensively by farmers in Europe before incubators were available.”

I don’t think of myself as the type to ply turkey menfolk with brandy and hoodwink them into fatherhood. But a girl needs to know her options.

-Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver


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