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A third of all Thanksgiving turkey meat won't be gobbled up

Americans will buy 581 million pounds of the fowl, but 204 million pounds will end up in the trash can, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports.

November 20, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

Americans will buy 581 million pounds of turkey meat for Thanksgiving this year but will trash more than a third of it, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Some 204 million pounds of meat will end up in the garbage after the holiday feast, according to an NRDC blog post.

The waste is especially appalling given that the resources required — including feed, water and transportation — to produce each pound of turkey are equivalent to fuel enough to drive a car 11 miles and take a 130-minute shower.

Overall, that equates to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 car trips from New York to San Francisco and enough water to supply New York City for more than 100 days.

Over the full year, Americans chuck out $165 billion in uneaten food, according to the NRDC.

And turkey prices are not getting any cheaper. They are up 7% from a year ago, pushed by the severe summer drought, according to a report on food site

Consumers are now trying to find work-arounds, with two-thirds saying they will buy Thanksgiving ingredients on sale, according to Allrecipes. Nearly half plan to use a coupon or shop around at multiple outlets.

Some consumers, though, are going in the opposite direction — they're planning to go for premium options such as heritage turkeys. These birds are more similar to the wild turkeys eaten during the original Thanksgiving festivities than today's domestic, farm-raised varieties, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph, compared with the 23.35 mph averaged by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, widely considered to be the fastest human alive. The fowl rarely exceed 24 pounds, while bred turkeys can surpass 40 pounds. Their gobbles can be heard up to a mile away.

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