This scholarly and authoritative book examines the cultural and literal history, as well as the natural history and biological needs and concerns of turkeys. Davis explores how turkeys came to be seen as birds who were not only the epitome of failure or stupidity but also the suitable centerpiece of the celebration of freedom in America itself—Thanksgiving. She examines the many varieties of turkeys and uncovers the methods by which millions of turkeys are raised, fattened, and slaughtered on farms around America today.
Davis takes us back to European folklore about turkeys, the myths, fairytales, and downright lies told about turkeys and their habits and habitats. She shows how turkeys in the wild have complex lives and family units, and how they were an integral part of Native American and continental cultures and landscape before the Europeans arrived.
Finally, Davis draws conclusions about our paradoxical, complex, and “bestial” relationship not just with turkeys, but with all birds, and thus with all other animals. She examines how our treatment of animals shapes our other values about ourselves, our relationship with other human beings, and our attitude toward the land, nation, and the world.
“This is the kind of book that we need more of. . . . Davis cuts through the pyramid of lies.”—Jim Mason, VegNews
“In a very scholarly way, Karen Davis explores the unnatural history of the turkey. Where did the bird come from? How was it treated by Native Americans? What place did the turkey have in their mythology? Why is the turkey called ‘turkey’? (And who would have guessed there could be so many compelling theories!?) What happened between the turkey being taken to Europe and then reintroduced to North America? How did the bird become so despised in Western society? All these questions and many more are dealt with in a serious but engaging way.”―Ian J. H. Duncan, Professor of Poultry Ethology, Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Ontario
“Karen Davis shines a new light on the unfortunate, much-maligned bird that is the center of America’s Thanksgiving ritual, and thereby illuminates the lies and hypocrisy that surround our eating habits and our attitudes to animals More Than A Meal challenges all Americans to think about the values they want their annual family ritual to embody.”―Peter Singer, DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University; author, Animal Liberation
“I very much like this book for its sensitivity, its well-researched cultural history, its honesty and probing qualities.”―Gisela Kaplan, Full Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, Australia