Farm Progress

Turkey more likely than tofu to be on Thanksgiving menu

Ron Smith 1, Senior Content Director

November 18, 2017

3 Min Read
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I haven’t consulted Pat about the Thanksgiving dinner menu yet, but I am confident that tofurkey will not make the cut.

Tofurkey, for those who are interested, is a concoction containing vegetable products, tofu, I’m certain, and other herbs and spices, I suppose, to create a taste that might be mistaken for poultry. Based on images I’ve seen, the mixture is molded into something resembling a large bird, baked, and served on a platter with the usual accompaniments of a holiday feast.

This time every year I receive at least one press release detailing the reasons why eating turkey is a bad idea. The annual reports, which come from various sources, include information that should not simply be ignored. It always includes commentary about the conditions of factory farms. I think most reasonable folks can agree that animals, even those bred and raised for food, should be treated as humanely as possible. For one thing, it’s bad economics not to raise farm animals as responsibly and as healthy as possible. But turkeys are not pets, though some would treat them so.

The annual news releases also rely on the oft-repeated mantras of those who would ban all animal agriculture — overuse of antibiotics, the health risks of consuming meat, the environmental impact of raising animals for food, and the notion that all animals should roam free. The reports are long on innuendo, short on research-based fact.

Take the highly exaggerated assumption that consuming turkey will kill you, a contention supported by the well-worn warning to avoid fat and cholesterol. I think we can all agree that eating too much fat, consuming too much cholesterol, and leading a sedentary lifestyle are not practices that will lead to a long, healthy life. But those of us who include animal protein in our diets take solace in numerous health and dietary studies that show a combination of moderate consumption of fats, inclusion of ample fruits and vegetables in our diets, and getting off the couch on a regular basis gives us decent odds of staying healthy.

I have no argument with anyone who chooses a vegetarian diet. I have no issues with folks who eat steaks well done, cheese on their scrambled eggs, or sushi, either, though I prefer medium rare, hold the cheese, and raw fish for bait only.  Diet is a lifestyle choice, and people in this country are blessed with many choices — organic, gluten-free, free range, and low fat, to name a few. 

I do object to organizations that use biased, unproven and exaggerated assumptions to scare people away from their choices and to poison their minds about animal agriculture.

One wonders what these organizations would have us do with the animals currently raised on farms. Turn them loose to roam the countryside? How that has worked with feral hogs? Maintaining animals on pasture with no income to support them makes neither economic nor environmental sense.

I hope vegetables are a part of our Thanksgiving meal, just not the entre.

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

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