The turkeys on our Thanksgiving dinner tables this year are different from the ones the Pilgrims had at the first Thanksgiving. Nearly all of the 50 million turkeys Americans will eat on Thursday will come from animal factories. While raising turkeys in a factory setting might make the birds cheaper and available to a large number of consumers, factory farming comes with negative consequences for our health and our environment. Unlike the wild birds the Pilgrims ate, factory turkeys need constant doses of antibiotics to stay healthy. Factory animals live closely packed together in unsanitary conditions. Owners use antibiotics to fight off infections and make the animals gain weight. Unfortunately, the antibiotics also make the bacteria that survive in factory farms even stronger. These drug-resistant bacteria have migrated out of the factory farms and made it harder for doctors to treat infections.
To avoid turkeys that have been raised on antibiotics, you can buy a bird at the supermarket with a USDA-certified "organic" label. To earn the organic seal, turkeys must be made without antibiotics. In addition, other organic foods like fruits and vegetables must be made without synthetic fertilizers or toxic pesticides.
In addition to all the turkeys Americans will eat this Thanksgiving, the string beans, apple pies, cranberry sauce, and other fixings can all be made with organic, locally grown ingredients.
You can sign an online petition to urge turkey producers to end their overuse of antibiotics.