Whole Foods Thanksgiving turkeys endure ‘horrific conditions’ at Calif. farm, activists say
This Thanksgiving, Whole Foods is definitely not thankful for a report just released by animal-rights activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) that alleges a farm that supplies the company with turkeys keeps the birds in“horrific conditions.”
If that bit of news is not bad enough, DxE claims that the farm is just one example of the grocery chain’s misleading claims about the welfare of the animals whose meat it buys and sells.
The report, appropriately named for this time of year, is titled “A Deadly Feast: What you are not told about your Thanksgiving turkey”. In the report, DxE alleges that Whole Foods turkey supplier Diestel Turkey Ranch operated one “just for show, picture perfect” farm in Sonora, California, but the turkeys the chain actually buys do not come from there. The report says “no turkeys raised at the 5+ Sonora farm are actually sold at Whole Foods or anywhere else.”
DxE's report says “Diestel Turkey Ranch, which has received Whole Foods’ highest rating for animal welfare, operates a showcase farm in Sonora that is heavily promoted in the company’s marketing and described as ‘humane’. However, the showcase farm does not, in fact, raise any animals for sale — it’s nothing more than a prop.”
DxE says that Diestel’s birds, which can sell for hundreds of dollars in Whole Foods, actually come from a larger facility housing up to 17,000 animals in Jamestown, California, where it alleges turkeys are raised in "filthy, noxious, crowded barns".
Naturally Whole Foods and Diestel Turkey Ranch have come out fighting against the claims, saying that DxE's real mission was not farm animal welfare, but the "elimination of farm animal meat consumption".
Heidi Diestel, a self-described “4th generation family farmer” says, "I can’t speak necessarily to what their allegations are and what their pictures are showing, They seem to be close up and out of context. Are they our ranch? Are they not? It’s hard to tell.” Adding that if anyone wants to inspect her farms, "that door is always open.”
The Thanksgiving turkey claims are not the first DxE's has laid against Whole Foods. In January it claimed one of the company’s hen suppliers mistreated its animals. In September, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged abuse at a pig farm affiliated with the chain. PETA has also filed a legal suit alleging that Whole Foods animal welfare ranking system is a “sham.”