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The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

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Turkeys face pressure to perform

Evelyn Wille
A few turkeys didn’t make “the cut” this Thanksgiving. These turkeys are for sale at the Commissary, located off Ocean Blvd. in Virginia Beach, Va. Picture taken on Nov. 20, 2023.

Every year on the fourth Thursday of November, families across America gather together to give thanks for everything they hold dear. 

As hands join around the table filled with delicious food, there’s a mutual feeling that life couldn’t be better; shared by everyone except the turkey at the center of the table. 

That’s right. For millions of turkeys, Thanksgiving lives in infamy. 

According to the Food Empowerment Project, the yearly death toll is about 46 million turkeys for this holiday alone, but there is a silver lining. 

Each year, two lucky turkeys are picked from the masses, saved by the President of the United States himself, but is this pardoning as picture perfect as it seems?

The White House extends an annual invitation to the National Turkey Federation to present one of their turkeys to the President for an official pardon, a tradition started in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.

According to the National Turkey Federation, the presiding chairman chooses a “home state turkey farmer” to raise a “Presidential Flock.” The chosen flock of turkeys are trained to a high standard; they are exposed to “sounds of a crowd, bright camera lights and standing comfortably on a table.” 

Along with this training, the selected turkey and its alternate must also be physically attractive and have a high temperament. 

Long story short, in order to escape the fate of the dinner table, a turkey has to have good genes and good connections. 

Another strange truth, all pardoned turkeys in the past have been white and most have been male. 

According to The Atlantic, there is no specific reason for this; it’s just “what the National Turkey Federation sends over.” 

While it may be a coincidence, it seems like even turkeys can’t escape the patriarchy.

After the ceremony, the chosen turkeys are then sent to a university to be cared for by veterinarians and poultry science students, free to live the rest of his or her life in peace.


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About the Contributor
Evelyn Wille, Staff Writer

Evelyn Wille is a senior and second year journalist for The Current. Outside of school, she enjoys playing piano, reading and taking her dogs for walks.

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