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More than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality [Paperback]

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Item description for More than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality by Karen Davis...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 15, 2001
Publisher   Lantern Books
ISBN  1930051883  
ISBN13  9781930051881  

Availability  0 units.

More About Karen Davis

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Davis is the President of United Poultry Concerns.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Asia > Turkey
2Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Birdwatching > General
3Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Reference
4Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Zoology > Ornithology

Reviews - What do customers think about More than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality?

Unique Look at a "Food" Animal  Jul 24, 2003
"More Than a Meal" is an incredible book, examining not just the nature of the turkey (behavior, intelligence, emotions, etc.), but also our cultural construction of it. Ms. Davis eloquently describes the many ways in which the turkey is dehumanized and demeaned in modern society. Such atrocities go far beyond the obvious (farming and killing turkeys for food), at times bordering on the ridiculous (for instance, the annual presidential pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey that will soon die prematurely anyway, as it was bred for grotesquely rapid growth that its body cannot withstand). She also delves into the human psyche, in a quest to figure out just why we hate this particular bird so (yet schizophrenically honor it every fall).

Karen Davis is an asset to the animal rights community. While anti-ARAs may disparage her with childish nicknames (Karen "Bird Brain" Davis is a popular one), Ms. Davis is clearly deserving of her PhD. She's an excellent writer, transforming what at first glance might be a mundane subject into a fascinating examination of our dysfunctional attitudes towards the nonhuman animals with which we share this planet. "More Than a Meal" is a must-read for anyone interested in the humane treatment of animals.

A must-read during Thanksgiving...and beyond.  Oct 27, 2002
When it comes to the other species with whom we share this planet, humans are often ignorant and lacking compassion. This characterization is also one that humans have tried to place on turkeys. Frequently this remarkable animal is wrongly portrayed as stupid and clumsy. Part of the reason for these incorrect descriptions of the turkey has to do with our species having cruelly bred this animal for fast growth and unnaturally large size. Turkeys' dependence on humans is often cited when people state that these birds are not intelligent. However, Karen Davis points out in her book More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality that these animals are dependent on humans for survival because we have made them so. By breeding fast growing, overweight turkeys we have created birds who are unable to walk fast or fly into trees and who commonly experience "lameness, respiratory congestion, mating infirmities, and heart disease, and most have white feathers that prevent them from camouflaging themselves." Besides intelligence, Davis offers fine examples to illustrate that turkeys are good parents and very protective of their young.
If human animals are going to begin respecting and living in harmony with nonhuman animals, we must learn about these animals and treat them with the compassion and respect all species deserve. We must also learn from our mistakes and cruel past and start righting these wrongs. In More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality, Karen Davis provides considerable knowledge on these fascinating animals and our deplorable relationship with them.--Reviewed by N. Glenn Perrett
More Than a Monograph  Mar 4, 2002
In her latest book, United Poultry Concerns President Karen Davis goes well beyond the basics when it comes to "talking turkey." As would be expected, Davis provides a wealth of facts about turkeys in their natural state and about the perverse abuses against turkeys perpetrated by hunters and on factory farms. Davis also shares many of her own often quite moving experiences living with and caring for turkeys. But Davis also dares to go deeper, probing the sociological and psychological meanings of such rituals as turkey shoots, turkey drops, and the thanksgiving dinner. Probably, most readers will be shocked to learn about spectacles of humiliation performed by modern communities in the name of "good clean fun" and about the everyday brutalities practiced by the poultry industry. Surely, every reader will be provoked to think hard about the often quite subtle arguments Davis puts forward concerning such issues as the oddly sexualized manner in which hunters of wild turkeys interact with their prey. Whether or not you think you will end up agreeing with Davis, you should read this book to learn more about an important American symbol and exercise your mind at the same time.

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