Talking Turkey with Mary

What happened to my brain? I was recently in Costco on a day when they were having more than the usual food fest and pushing samples of nearly every product in the food section with full-force abandon, resulting in a full-fledged feeding frenzy.

Caught up in the excitement and the sport, I joined the fray, although trying to remember my convictions as I dove in. My convictions have not much to do with any diet I might be on, but rather with a philosophy of what I can eat and still feel morally responsible. I have eliminated red meat–and that includes “the other white meat” too–from my repertoire, mostly because I don’t like how we treat the meat before it was meat–and what it went through on its way to arriving on our plates.

I didn’t use to think like this. I remember when meat from the grocery store was just that–and had no real connection, other than in textbooks, to any animals I ever saw walking around in fields, back when animals actually used to do that, and yes, I am aware that I have just dated myself back with the dinosaurs. Then, one day, I just was no longer able to ignore the rest of the story, and that was the end of red meat for me.

OK–so no meat from 4-footed sources. Two-footed sources I’ve allowed, but on the condition that they have been free-range before their demise. At least they have led “good lives,” and somehow that has eased my conscience to the point that I can consume them.

So, on that free-for-all-food day in Costco, I got into some teriyaki-ed turkey tenderloins, so, the 2-footed source requirement had been met. Then my brain must have gone catatonic. What about the free-range part? Obviously, I had been drugged–no doubt by the teriyaki–and I actually ended up buying some of those tenderloins that had been drugged with the same stuff.

It wasn’t until I went back to Costco two weeks later and discovered that the turkey tenderloins had actually been discontinued (sometimes the universe has to go to an extreme to get my attention), that I finally began to think and then do some research.

I contacted the teriyaki-ed turkey tenderloin people. They were in North Carolina. Bad sign. Not only had these bird remains been shipped all the way across the country, but people who raise birds in North Carolina and Georgia are notorious for cramming 25 of them into spaces where normally not more than a dozen feathers could fit, feeding them until they practically pop, and then executing them once they’ve been terrorized past the point of consciousness. That’s not the way I want my dinner treated, but I took a chance, hoping for the best, and asked if their turkeys were free-range. Who was I kidding? Not a chance. So then I got on the internet to see what I could find, and the first person I found and then called was Mary, of Mary’s Turkeys in Fresno, California. Mary’s turkeys are all free-range and Mary even answers her own phone. Two shocks for the price of one.

Mary was great–I thought I must have somehow known her for years. Maybe we had actually shared a past life. We talked as if that had been the case anyway. We talked about lots of things, turkeys included, of course, and Mary had me laughing out loud. We had a great time and would have talked longer, but she was getting other calls. It’s no wonder–everyone wants to talk to Mary. Mary is a great PR person, and most probably, a great person overall.

The bad news was that Mary’s turkeys are not available anywhere near where I live, although both Mary and I are in California. I could get Mary’s turkeys 3000 miles away in New York, but not in my area of California. This didn’t make any sense to either Mary or me, but she graciously suggested I try one of her California competitors–Willie.

So I went and had a look at Willie’s web site and that man really needs to give Mary a call. He badly needs her help in changing his apparent attitude, along with the attached image it is conveying. Willie apparently knows nothing about PR.

There on his website is a picture of Willie, cigar nonchalantly dangling from his mouth, dangling one of his still-alive turkeys by a wing and a foot. I bet Mary wouldn’t treat one of her turkeys in such a cavalier and disrespectful way. I mean, I want to know that any turkey I am going to eat has at least been treated with respect and dignity in life, and I was hardly convinced, after seeing that picture, that Willie is into showing any kind of respect at all.

And I don’t think I would like talking to him either, not that he would ever be answering his own phone as Mary does. I can tell that by just looking at that picture. There’s the problem with that cigar for starters.

Willie also needs to take a look at Mary’s website. There she is, pictured along with her husband and sons, none of them molesting or mishandling a bird in any way. They all look so pleasant and capable of showing respect–and no dangling cigars either.

Mary gets my vote for providing any future turkeys for me…I may just have to drive 50 miles to get to one of her stores. But you know what? I’d do that. And all because Mary knows not only how to talk turkey, but she also knows how to treat them.

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