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Disgusting. Is Whole Foods a victim of fraud, or is it in on the fraud? Who knows?

In a report titled “A Deadly Feast: What you are not told about your Thanksgiving turkey,” an advocacy group called Direct Action Everywhere, known as “DxE,” alleged that Diestel Turkey Ranch operated one “picture perfect” farm with about 400 animals in Sonora, Calif. 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: “no cages, no crates, no crowding.” “Step 5+” is the highest: “animal centered, entire life on same farm” with extensive outdoor access.)

However, DxE claimed, “no turkeys raised at the 5+ Sonora farm are actually sold at Whole Foods or anywhere else.” …

“Diestel Turkey Ranch, which has received Whole Foods’ highest rating for animal welfare, operates a showcase farm in Sonora, CA that is heavily promoted in the company’s marketing and described as ‘humane,’” DxE’s report read. “However, the showcase farm does not, in fact, raise any animals for sale — it’s nothing more than a prop.”

Whole Foods Thanksgiving turkeys endure ‘horrific conditions’ at Calif. farm, activists say, Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, today

My Thanksgiving dinner this year will be the same as last year’s: A mostly-open-air vegan/vegetarian potluck whose main course (the one I’ll choose; there will be others offered) will be a vegan meatloaf-looking dish with mushroom gravy, one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had.

Like the Pilgrims!  Minus the turkey.  (I’m not the cook, and I don’t have the recipe; sorry.)

But while I have been known to try to persuade friends to buy free-range turkeys for the holiday—Trader Joe’s has them and they’re not that expensive—I know that most people, including most people I know, will be having factory-farm turkeys at their dinner.  Knowingly.

But here’s a situation in which people who care about animal cruelty in agriculture, and can afford to and are willing to pay an apparently hefty premium for their holiday poultry, are being defrauded not just of money but also of their sense of ethics.

The title of this post poses a rhetorical question, not one that I expect an AB reader to answer, but Whole Foods’ reaction to the report suggests that the answer to the question is not what I (and, I’m sure, their customers) would hope.  According to the WP article, “Whole Foods as well as Diestel Turkey Ranch took issue with the accusations, saying that the activists’ mission was not farm animal welfare, but the elimination of farm animal meat consumption.”  Non sequiturs work only if your target audience is comprised of political consultants.

I know that most people who will be buying a Thanksgiving turkey already have bought theirs.  But I think it’s important to disseminate this information even at this late date.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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