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November 24, 2003
Today we can shop for Thanksgiving dinner -- tomorrow is out, because I'm up in the Bronx most of the day, and Wednesday won't work: the store will be too frantic. Besides, Rosie and I need to get a jump on pies, and that's happening this afternoon. I'm out of flour. Shopping today, then.

Q has been racking up points in the store's annual free turkey giveaway. Spend $250 or more and you get a nice big turkey. The store also has something called a "baby club," in which you also rack up points for dollars spent. But I have yet to find a store employee who can tell me how much you have to spend before they give you a baby.

Last year, at Anna's behest, we made a paste of butter and thyme and something else and rubbed it in between the skin of the breast and the breast itself. It made it lovely and moist. Breast meat is sometimes not lovely and moist -- sometimes it's dry as a bone and tastes like sawdust.

And now I know why. It's the way turkeys are raised. An Op-ed in the times spells it out for us: their beaks and talons are clipped off. They never go outside. They can't fly, or even walk very far. All this is to give them large breasts. I prefer dark meat, myself.

And they're all the same breed of turkey, the well-named Broad Breasted White. This, too, is not good. You need biodiversity within a species, or the species is in great danger. The Irish Potato Famine could have been averted if the Irish had planted more than one kind of potato, as the blight that destroyed their crop only affected that one strain -- of course, it could also have been averted if the English had taken only a fraction of the bumper crop of wheat they raised in Ireland during the famine and given it to the starving Irish. But still -- poor people can't depend on rich people to help them. It's dangerous. Like as not, they won't get around to it, not in time. Peruvian potato farmers are poor, too, but they grow dozens of different potatoes every year -- if one gets a blight, the others don't. In farming, as in the rest of life, you never put all your eggs in one basket.

I guess we'll go with our free turkey this year, and deal with his enormous breast somehow. That will give me a year to work on Q about a more correct turkey, one with a beak and talons, a turkey that knew what it was to scratch for food in a barnyard. A turkey that knew its mother.

You don't have to live the homogenous life big business and big advertising try to force on you. You can live another kind of life. You don't have to be a machine whose function is to consume. You don't have to decide you need things just because they're on television. You don't have to let them cut off your beak and your talons. But hurry -- fly away now. Once they've done it, you won't be able to escape.

The Times Op-ed about turkeys.
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