Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Traceable Turkeys

                Cargill, the global agriculture and food giant based in Minneapolis, is conducting a market test with turkeys it sells under its Honeysuckle White label. Turkey buyers in select Texas markets will be able to text- or enter on the Honeysuckle White website- a code that will be on a tag attached to packaged birds to find out where it was raised and get information about the farm’s location, view photos and read messages from the farmers themselves.
                Four Texas farmers are participating in this trial run. According to the Associated Press, the traceable turkeys sent to stores in this pilot project won’t cost more than untagged birds. After the test is completed, the company will assess its effectiveness and value in order to decide if the digital tagging should be expanded to other markets, or if any price adjustments are warranted.
                This is a pilot project, and marks the agribusiness behemoth’s entry into the rapidly growing farm-to-table movement that is being driven by those who want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. “Sustainable food” advocates have been touting connections such as these as a way for farmers to market locally grown and raised foods. One of the turkey farmers involved in the project stated: “What traceability does is just allow us to connect with the consumer. And I think over time there has been a disconnect. People have kind of lost where their food comes from and this is a way to re-establish that line of communication.”
                While I don’t argue with that, I do wonder if going too far down this road is prudent, especially as it pertains to the consumption of animals. The intersection of technology and political-correctness is a scary one. Animal rights activists, P.E.T.A., vegans, and assorted other whackos may well be aided, albeit inadvertently, in their crusades as consumers get more and more information about the meat they ingest. 
                Picture a typical mother of two unwrapping the turkey she purchased for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Before popping it into the oven she discovers the digital code attached to a tag on the bird’s leg. After removing said tag, out of curiosity she scans it with her smart-phone and is presented with pictures of turkeys, farm life, and the following message: “Tom liked to gobble and had a big, red, nine-inch waddle. (Easy, ladies, LOL!). Though he was quick to startle, he was a pleasure to be around. He liked to watch Rachel Maddow and was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. He is- temporarily- survived by three mates and ninety-six offspring. ‘We all thought Tom was terrific,’ said Farmer Brown.”
                “Oh, Tommy! She cries.”

                Tofu. It’s what’s for dinner. Pass the cranberries.  

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