Why You Should Think Twice About Buying a Butterball Turkey
If you’re getting ready to gobble up turkey this Thanksgiving, you may want to think about what it stands for.
The idea of eating a whole ball of butter doesn’t seem unappealing to many Americans, and perhaps that’s how the entire Butterball turkey concept became so popular. Meat covered in more fat? Sign us up, America said.
The wild turkeys of the 17th century, which the pilgrims and Native Americans feasted upon, would not even recognize Butterball LLC’s birds. Americans circa mid-20th-century became infatuated with our nation’s biggest equalizer: pre-packaged foods.
Butterball began in 1940 in Wyoming, Ohio, trademarked by a woman named Ada Walker, though the origin of the name remains unclear. A decade later, in 1951, Leo Peters bought the name and founded Butterball Farms in Grand Rapids, Michigan. American food processing company Swift & Co. leased the name in 1954, and used it to start selling frozen turkeys. In the 1990s, Swift was sold to Nebraska-based food conglomerate ConAgra, which then sold the brand to Carolina Turkeys in 2006. In 2010, Seaboard Corporation acquired 49 percent of Butterball LLC for $250 million.
Butterball is not in fact a preparation of chicken or a specific heritage breed, but rather a business investment, as so much of American cuisine is. In fact, there is no actual butter in or on a Butterball turkey. The fresh turkeys are injected with a basting solution made of salt water and “common household spices,” one brand representative told me. Butterball will not share the ingredients of its secret basting formula.
According to the farm animal welfare group Mercy for Animals, Butterball slaughters 20 percent of the 252 million turkeys killed each year in the U.S. Do we really want a corporation controlling so much of our poultry?
According to Butterball’s website, it claims it is "dedicated to the humane treatment of our turkeys.” The birds are called all-natural, a rather meaningless and non-FDA accredited statement, gluten-free (as all animal protein naturally should be), and raised without hormones on American farms.
But a video released in July 2014 proved that the Butterball turkeys aren’t as happy-go-lucky as the multimillion-dollar company claims the birds to be. The animal protection group Butterball Abuse shared a disturbing video of baby birds being ground alive in macerating machines, turkeys having their toes and beaks removed without painkillers and workers kicking, stomping on, throwing and dragging turkeys.
Since 1981, Butterball has operated a Turkey Talk-line every November and December, allowing customers to call Butterball specialists directly to ask for preparation tips, troubleshoot their turkey cooking or just ask questions about the product.
On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, I spoke with a woman called Sandra, who patiently assisted with all of my Butterball-related questions. When I asked her about the charges of animal cruelty, there was a long awkward pause. She assured me that, “As far as the animals being mistreated, we have a quality care that keeps close eyes on our turkeys so that will never happen again.” She went on to explain that this quality care team is not certified in any way to watch for animal abuse, but they “make sure the turkeys don’t get hurt” and “there’s no more abuse for sure.” But since Sandra had never visited a Butterball plant, she could not provide me with resources to ensure that the turkeys were treated better today than when the video was shot.
While there’s a lot of sketchy information stuffed inside Butterballs turkeys, we do know this: buying a locally raised and humanely slaughtered turkey allows for a greater level of transparency and understanding of the animal you’re eating. Buying local has a lower carbon footprint than purchasing from an industrial brand, and a turkey raised on organic feed will most likely be healthier than whatever Butterball is plumping up its turkeys with.
While a farmers market turkey may cost a few extra bucks, if you’re going to eat turkey this holiday, put down the extra feathers to celebrate something America should actually be thankful for: local, sustainable, delicious food raised without cruelty to the animals whose lives are being sacrificed for your meal. You can always call the Butterball Hotline for roasting tips: no one will tell.
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A summary infographic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms predicted from NOAA's 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. NOAA
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dana Drugmand
An unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by six Portuguese youths is to be fast-tracked at Europe's highest court, it was announced today.
The European Court of Human Rights said the case, which accuses 33 European nations of violating the applicants' right to life by disregarding the climate emergency, would be granted priority status due to the "importance and urgency of the issues raised."
‘Protect Our Future’<p>Cláudia Agostinho (21), Catarina Mota (20), Martim Agostinho (17), Sofia Oliveira (15), André Oliveira (12) and Mariana Agostinho (8) are <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2020/09/03/youth-climate-lawsuit-portugal-33-european-countries" target="_blank">bringing the case</a> with nonprofit law firm Global Legal Action Network (<span style="background-color: initial;">GLAN</span>), arguing that none of the countries have sufficiently ambitious targets to cut their emissions.</p><p>Portugal recently sweltered through its <a href="https://www.ipma.pt/pt/media/noticias/news.detail.jsp?f=/pt/media/noticias/textos/resumo-clima-julho-20.html" target="_blank">hottest July in 90 years</a> and has seen a rise in devastating heatwaves and wildfires over recent years due to rising temperatures. Four of the applicants live in Leiria, one of the regions worst-hit by the forest fires that killed more than 120 people in 2017. </p><p>Responding to the development, André Oliveira, 12, said: "It gives me lots of hope to know that the judges in the European Court of Human Rights recognise the urgency of our case." </p><p>"But what I'd like the most would be for European governments to immediately do what the scientists say is necessary to protect our future. Until they do this, we will keep on fighting with more determination than ever."</p>
‘Highly Significant'<p>The decision represents a "highly significant" step, <a href="https://www.glanlaw.org/about-us" target="_blank">GLAN</a> Director Dr. Gearóid Ó Cuinn said in a <a href="https://youth4climatejustice.org/" target="_blank">press release</a>.</p><p>"This is an appropriate response from the Court given the scale and imminence of the threat these young people face from the climate emergency," he added. </p><p>By suing the 33 countries all together, the youths aim to compel these national governments to act more aggressively on climate through a single court order, which would potentially be more effective than pursuing separate lawsuits or lobbying policymakers in each country.</p><p>If successful, the defendant countries would be legally bound not only to ramp up emissions cuts, but also to tackle overseas contributions to climate change including those of their multinational enterprises.</p>
‘Major Hurdle’<p>The <a href="https://youth4climatejustice.org/the-case/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countries targeted</a> include all of the European Union member states as well as Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, none of which are currently aligned with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/paris-agreement">Paris agreement</a> target to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and pursue a limit of 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).<a href="https://climateactiontracker.org/countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> </a></p><p><a href="https://climateactiontracker.org/countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Action Tracker rates</a> most of Europe as "insufficient" in terms of its emissions reduction policies based on the Paris target, while Ukraine, Turkey and Russia are assessed as "critically insufficient" – meaning they are on track for a warming of 4 degrees C or higher.</p><p>The European Union has pledged to slash its emissions by <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/eu-climate-action/2030_ctp_en" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least 55 percent by 2030</a>. But the Portuguese youth plaintiffs are calling for cuts of at least 65 percent by 2030, a level that <a href="http://www.caneurope.org/energy/climate-energy-targets" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">European climate campaigners say</a> is necessary to meet the 1.5 degrees warming limit.</p><p> The 33 countries must each respond to the youths' complaint by the end of February, before lawyers representing the plaintiffs will respond to the points of defense. </p><p>"Nothing less than a 65 percent reduction by 2030 will be enough for the EU member states to comply with their obligations to the youth-applicants and indeed countless others," Gerry Liston, legal officer with GLAN, said in a press release.</p><p>"These brave young people have cleared a major hurdle in their pursuit of a judgment which compels European governments to accelerate their climate mitigation efforts."</p><p><span></span><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2020/11/29/court-advances-landmark-youth-climate-lawsuit-against-33-european-nations" target="_blank">DeSmog</a>. </em></p>
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Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the "Green Nobel Prize," this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continents.
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Kristal Ambrose. Goldman Environmental Prize
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Chibeze Ezekiel. Goldman Environmental Prize
Nemonte Nenquimo, Ecuador<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0NzM2Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzYxODYwM30.cys5ZsFGd75UcjybADGBPFt20jrzgrsFujoj_qMTK4E/img.jpg?width=980" id="96b5a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0778ab7334e3297e0ead52d5fd1499e5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Nemonte Nenquimo. Goldman Environmental Prize
Leydy Pech, Mexico<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0NzQwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkzOTYzOH0.uHlN2FQoJJ_KFJWTn4oL__lDyjA0-HDnxewBhwgQRVg/img.jpg?width=980" id="9ab07" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc347126d4ce9ddbb3b9c1b4673391b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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