Herald Variety OP-ED

What are you really eating this Thanksgiving?

The abuse that animals suffer at human hands can be heartbreaking, sickening, and infuriating. It’s even more so when we realize that the everyday choices we make—such as what we eat for lunch and the kind of shampoo we buy—may be directly supporting some of this abuse.

Most of us will purposefully stay ignorant to these issues because it is simply too horrible to think about, but as hard as it is, we can’t stop animals’ suffering if we simply look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening.

One issue which has just arisen, is that animal rights advocacy group ‘Direct Action Everywhere’ has made claims that Thanksgiving turkeys endure “horrific conditions” at a farm which supplies the popular Whole Foods chain — and that the farm is just part of the grocery chain’s misleading claims about the welfare of the animals whose meat it sells.

Whole Foods is a giant in the US and it wants to sell products at a premium. People rely on the reputation of Whole Foods when buying a Thanksgiving turkey from there and believe they’re doing something kind for the animals.

In a report called ‘A Deadly Feast’ written by the advocacy group, they claim that Diestel Turkey Ranch operated one “picture perfect” farm with about 400 animals in Sonora, California. This farm, the group said, was certified “5+” in an animal-welfare system adopted by Whole Foods, (“Step 1″ is the lowest rating for suppliers who want to be certified and “Step 5+” is the highest) but no turkeys raised at the farm are actually sold at Whole Foods or anywhere else.

After nine visits and a 40-hour investigation, they concluded that the turkey’s come from another facility which houses up to 17,000 animals in Jamestown, California. Conditions here, rated “3” under the Whole Foods system, were not as pristine and weren’t in line with what they are advertising.

It’s not the first time Whole Foods has been in hot water either. In a class action lawsuit filed in California on the 21st September, the well-known animal rights group PETA alleges that the grocery chain’s attempts’ to monitor how its suppliers treat their animals is a “sham.” And the customers are paying for it.
In both cases Wholefoods questioned the motives of the groups saying that their mission is to end farm animals for human consumption completely and these claims are made with those goals in mind.
What can we learn from this? If you are concerned for animal rights you need to do thorough research into what you are buying and make sure what you are reading on the label is factual and in line with your ethics. Or better yet, don’t eat animals at all.

Even though there is an abundance of animal rights issues and agricultural farming is just the tip of the iceberg there has been some positive news recently regarding our furry friends. As of Tuesday evening, domesticated canines are no longer considered personal property but living beings under a new law in France. This is the same nation that made it illegal for grocery stores to purposefully waste food, as well as hosted the world’s first car-free day.

Even though they have been hit with terrorism and fear there are still progressive happenings taking place in France and nearly 700,000 people signed a petition against the 1804 law that categorized pets as “movable goods,” such as furniture and kitchen equipment. That is definitely a win for the animal kingdom. Anonymous 2015, Dogs are now being recognized as sentient beings in France.

Available from:
PETA 2015, Issues. Available from:
The Washington Post 2015, Whole Foods Thanksgiving turkeys endure ‘horrific conditions’ at Calif. farm, activists say. Available from:


About the author

Anita Gooding

Anita Gooding

My name is Anita, and I'm a UC Berkeley alumna and currently based in Minnesota but from the United Kingdom.
I have been actively involved in political reportage since the days of Bill Clinton in the White House and have always kept tabs on political events in the United Kingdom and the European Union at large. I take special delight in covering the activities of frontline politicians in the US and EU
I joined the Herald Reporter’s team of correspondents in October 2017 out of my passion for journalism to cover US and EU evolving and trending political news.

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