Operation Turkey Undercover: The Frightening Truth About That Thanksgiving Day Bird

Thanksgiving is almost here and I am so pumped. I absolutely love this holiday.  I love seeing my family after being away from home for so long, I love the mouth-watering home cooked food, and contrary to many of my black Friday wary peers, I get a complete adrenaline rush from trying to find the best deals amid hordes of sale crazy shoppers.

Yet, there is something about this holiday that I don’t look forward to: stuffing my face with turkey. In fact, I refrain from eating the stuff all together.  While I am a prideful, animal loving vegan, health reasons alone are enough to eschew this Thanksgiving Day bird of choice. I know Thanksgiving is only one day each year and if you want to eat Turkey on Thanksgiving, it’s not the worst nutrition crime you could commit.  Yet at the same time, I just can’t sit back and let these facts go unshared.  Here’s an inside peek at the turkey knowledge circulating in my nutritional researched-stuffed brain when I glance at the bird on the table:

1)   46 million turkeys are raised every year just for this holiday alone. These turkeys are big mutant cousins of the turkeys that the pilgrims ate. The turkeys on our tables are fed incredibly high-calorie diets so that they grow much larger than any wild turkey would, and at an unnaturally fast rate.  Today’s farm raised birds become so top heavy that their legs can barely hold them. Their beaks and toes are cut so that they don’t scratch each other. Modern factory-farmed turkeys cannot even breed naturally due to all of their malformations. All turkeys we buy in the supermarket rely on artificial insemination to reproduce.

Turkeys. Flickr: cyanocorax

2)   Turkeys carry creepy pathogens. There’s this bug called campylobacter. It’s the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States. Campylobacter is a dangerous little critter, estimated to infect more than 2.4 million Americans each year. Turns out a whopping 90 percent of turkeys produced in America are contaminated with our friend Mr. Campylobacter.  This is a consequence of birds being housed in super crowded cages with less than three square feet of space to move and being regularly dosed with antibiotics.  Speaking of antibiotics…

3)   Antibiotics: Turkeys produced on factory farms are fed a disturbingly large quantity of antibiotics as a routine preventive measure to ward off illnesses between them and to accelerate growth.  When you eat turkey, those antibiotics don’t suddenly disappear like Harry Houdini. They are transferred directly to you.  This is scary because when you ingest unnecessary antibiotics by eating Mr. Gobble-Gobble, your own healthy intestinal bacteria get wiped out, making you less able to fight off diseases. Oh, and the bacteria that the drugs are designed to kill eventually morph into stronger, more powerful versions of themselves.  Scarily, these bugs can transform into superbugs in which we, nor the turkeys, can form a natural resistance.

4)   Turkeys are full of synthetic hormones: the turkeys sold in supermarkets are routinely pumped full of artificial hormones to promote muscle growth, and those hormones are passed directly to you if you eat it.  That might sound good to all the bodybuilders I know are reading this article, but actually our bodies work hard to keep a natural balance of hormones in our circulation and eating animal products treated with hormones equals trouble for this healthy balance.  Excess hormones increase your risk of cancer.

5)   More toxins in turkey: eat turkey and you will be getting a nice helping of dioxin too.  What’s dioxin you say? Dioxin happens to be one of the most toxic chemicals known to science and is recognized as a cancer-causing demon among the scientific community.  It is estimated that 93 percent of our exposure to dioxin comes through eating animal products. 

It’s hard to believe that a seemingly “harmless” bird could contain all this junk, right? I find it hard to believe myself.  If you want to eat a bit of turkey on Thanksgiving I won’t shake my head (this is assuming I actually saw you eating turkey), but I will encourage you to load up on all of the other delicious Thanksgiving meal alternatives instead.  Savory sweet potato pie, roasted vegetables, a hearty vegetable stew, cranberry relish, and berry cobbler are dishes that I look forward to. I could go on with all of the amazing, healthy foods that will be at my Thanksgiving Day table….So even though eating turkey might not be the best idea considering the pathogens, dioxin and all that jazz, I’m still a big foodie and am looking forward to some good holiday eatin’ and my adrenaline rush inducer of choice (aka black Friday shopping).

Having a delightful and delicious time with my family and friends need not include a turkey.  Thanksgiving is a time to show thanks, after all, and avoiding turkey and other unhealthy foods every day allows me to be thankful for my good health now and for years to come.

 

 

References:

1)   Division of Foodborne, Bacterial, and Mycotic Diseases, “Campylobacter,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.ced.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/campylobacter?gi.html#2

2)   ActionPA, “Dioxin Homepage,” managed by ActionPA.org, http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin

3)   John Robbins, The Food Revolution (Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001), 128.

4)   www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4037499

Happy Thanksgiving!

runnerEarly this morning, in the drizzling rain and cool temps of northern Indiana, my oldest son and I ran in my hometown’s annual 4-mile Thanksgiving run. Just before the start, the announcer exclaimed with much enthusiasm that a record 2400 runners had come out for run; making it one of the largest Thanksgiving 4-mile runs in the nation this morning! Then the National Anthem was played and I absolutely lost it as tears of gratitude and joy welled up in my eyes. On this Thanksgiving Day, amongst the sea of runners, I was one of them; a healthy athlete ~ a bona fide runner!     

Just three years prior, I was 100 lbs overweight. I'd been obese for nearly twenty years and had given up hope. I had heart disease, pre-diabetes, chronic fatigue, depression, lower back pain, achy joints, and shortness of breath from just climbing a flight of steps or walking to the mailbox and back.

Well, those days are over . . . for good!

Thanks to making the commitment to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating plan as outlined on p.179 of Eat to Live, I lost the majority of excess weight within ten months. I no longer have heart disease, pre-diabetes, or any of the above mentioned maladies; and even more importantly, I'm now free from food addiction and the resulting eating disorders that had plagued my life for years. 

As I was nearing the finish line and making my legs give that final extra push, and the exuberant crowd was cheering, I couldn’t help but think, “I’m an obesity survivor!”

This same freedom is for everyone!  

Cheering for all to do whatever it takes to enjoy optimal health this Thanksgiving Day and always ~ you will never regret it! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving table setting 

                                                                                         

I took the above picture as I was preparing our Thanksgiving noon meal today.  I bought the Pilgrim statues years ago at a garage sale.  Arranged with candles, artificial leaves, squash and apples, it makes one of my favorite holiday centerpieces.  My immediate family (minus my oldest daughter who lives out east and will be home for Christmas) will be gathering with my extended family later this evening at my Aunt’s house to catch up on the happenings of everyone.

I started a new Thanksgiving tradition for myself early this morning.  I ran a 4 mile run, appropriately named the “Galloping Gobbler”, with my oldest son.  Three of my children, at various times, have run in this race for several Thanksgivings now, and it has been my goal for a long time to be able to join them someday. 

Well, today was that someday.

 

                                                  

Words are inadequate to express how wonderful it feels to have health back. 

It was a tough course with hills that I hadn’t trained for, but wanted to give it a shot anyway.  As I was approaching the finish line, and the bystanders were cheering, it felt so good to be able to stretch out my legs and run.  Two years ago, when I was obese, I couldn’t even jog to catch a fly away ball in our backyard. 

If you are sitting on the fence of indecision, I encourage you to give nutritarian eating your all. 

To be free from food addiction and get health back is something you will never regret.

Ever.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  

Healthy Apple Crisp and Sweet Potato Pie

 

 picture of apples

Hot and Healthy Apple Crisp

The following recipe is from the Member Center of www.drfuhrman.com   A member commented that this crisp smells wonderful while baking in the oven.  Enjoy!

 

(Preheat oven to 350 degrees.)

8 apples, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup date sugar

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup raisins

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup Goji berries, soaked (optional)

Sprinkle apples with lemon juice & toss.  Mix rest of ingredients together then combine with apples and mix thoroughly.  Pour into an 8" X 11" baking dish and bake for 45 minutes.  Makes 8 servings.

Note:  If using Goji berries make sure to soak them for an hour ahead of time in just enough water to cover.  Drain before adding the berries to the mixture.  The Goji berries not only add color to this crisp but, more importantly, they add a nutritional antioxidant boost!

                                       

                              Painting of Pilgrimans and Indians at first Thanksgiving

Sweet Potato Pie 

The following recipe is from Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times Newsletter; Issue 3, November 2002The pineapple gives it a delightful Hawaiian twist.  Happy and healthy Thanksgiving baking!  

 

(Preheat oven to 350 degrees.)

4-6 sweet potatoes (organic are sweeter)

1 1/2 cups orange juice

Canned sliced pineapple (unsweetened)

Bake sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 90 minutes or until soft.  Let cool.  Peel off skin and mash in a food processor or Vita Mix with sufficient orange juice to reach desired consistency.  Spread mixture into a pan.  Cover with pineapple slices.

Bake for 1/2 hour.

Makes 4 servings.

 

image credits:  google.com

Delicious Guilt-Free Pumpkin Pie with Oat Crust

Here in the United States we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in less than three weeks.  I thought it would be fun to share a recipe for pumpkin pie from the vast selection of nutritarian recipes that are posted on the members’ center of www.DrFuhrman.com  Enjoy!   

image of slice of pumpkin pie  

Serves 8

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

 

OAT PIE CRUST

1 cup quick oats (not instant)

1/4 cup ground almonds

1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons water

 

PIE FILLING

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin

1/2 cup date sugar*

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 10-ounce pkg soft tofu

 

CASHEW CREAM

1 1/3 cups raw cashews

3/4 cup vanilla soy milk

2/3 cup dates

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pie Crust:  Mix oats, almonds and flour.  Blend oil and water together with a wire whisk. Add to dry ingredients and mix until it holds together.  You may need to add a little more water.  Spray 9-inch pie dish lightly with cooking spray and press the crust to thinly cover the bottom and sides of the pie dish.

Pie Filling:  In a blender combine the pumpkin and date sugar.*  Add raisins, spices, arrowroot powder, and tofu.  (Some like more spices; individual preference.)  Blend until smooth.  Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes then lower heat to 350 degrees.  Cover crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent burning, and bake for an additional 60 minutes.

While pie is in the oven make the Cashew Cream.  Blend all ingredients together in a Vita-Mix or other powerful blender.

Serve slightly warm or cold with a dollop of Cashew Cream.

Note:  The pie filling will firm up as it cools. 

 * A member commented that she used dates in the pie filling instead of date sugar and liked it better.  She baked the pie for 75 minutes at 350 degrees; 15 of those minutes with the crust uncovered, and 60 minutes with the crust covered.  (Tip:  Cover crust by using a square of aluminum foil with a large hole cut out in the middle, leaving most of the pie uncovered.)  According to her, the texture and appearance came out great!