Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Palin or Pollan?

By now you've probably heard about the Sarah Palin turkey slaughter fiasco. If not, you're in for a treat.

After granting one turkey a pardon, Palin stood unaware as others were slaughtered behind her while fielding questions for an interview. The scene was an embarrassment for Palin, but for the public it proved both entertaining and disconcerting.

It's hard to say what's worse: the fact that a would be vice president could be so oblivious to her surroundings, or the fact that Americans were so alarmed to see that turkeys have to be killed in order for us to eat them. By total coincidence and thanks in large part to youtube, we've all been granted access to the metaphoric glass abattoir that Michael Pollan describes in The Omnivore's Dilemma.

The attention garnered by this incident is yet further proof that we are disconnected from our food. If Palin had been standing in front of a nicely browned and stuffed bird with those little frilly things on its drumsticks, there would have been no controversy. But stick her next to a killing cone and it's a different story. The interview was a mistake on Palin's part, but with Thanksgiving around the corner it serves as a necessary reminder that a turkey doesn't turn into "turkey" by magic.

In a nation of more enlightened eaters, the interview would still have been viewed as a serious faux pas on the part of Palin, but viewers may not have reacted so viscerally. I've watched the video several times in mixed company, and each time at least some of those present react with disgust. If they were vegan, I would understand, but if you're going to eat meat, you shouldn't be as squeamish as a fifth grader in sex-ed.

Of course this is precisely the connection that Chef's Collaborative seeks to strengthen. There's a good reason that people have been tossing around the phrase "farm to table." Without understanding where your food comes from, it's more like "out of thin air to table."

So this Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks to that special someone who helped you show a little more gratitude: Sarah Palin.

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marimann said...

Palin was not unaware of what was going on behind her. Reporters at the interview say she chose the place and when asked, before the interview, if she wanted to move, replied "No worries" (http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/turkey-gate-the-fiasco-that-wouldnt-die/)
Also at one point in the video, she turns to look behind her. While I am appalled at her lack of empathy and sensitivity (to the turkeys and to her fellow Americans), I do think that we as Americans do need to see where our meat comes from, in what way, and not blind ourselves to that reality. The turkeys behind Palin are only a few of the millions slaughtered every year so that we can "give thanks".

Jay said...

That's how they kill turkeys? How inefficient. He only kills 2 turkeys in 3 minutes! I thought they just dropped them in a room with a big buzzsaw, like on South Park.

But I can understand why everyone would have such a visceral reaction to this video. Palin's voice is so grating as she blathers on and on. No wonder they tried to keep her from the media.

Anonymous said...

I used to make fun of Palin but now I would like to see what she would have done as president

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