Morning names: thistles!

From the 1st: triggered by the family name Diestel (probably prompted by the Diestel Turkey Ranch in Sonoma that supplies turkeys and turkey products to Whole Foods), then on to the French singer Sacha Distel, and the distelfink folk art figure of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Almost surely all go back to Standard German Distel ‘thistle’ or one of its regional variants:


Then there’s a non-thistle bonus: Destiel, fanfic art based on the characters Dean and Castiel from the tv series Supernatural.

Diestel. (I’m not 100% certain of the thistly origin of this name, but humor me.) The Diestel Turkey Ranch in Sonoma makes a great deal of its tight family origins and its humane treatment of the birds it raises. The meat also counts as locally sourced here in the Bay Area, and it’s publicized at local Whole Foods stores. In addition to whole turkeys, there are offerings like this:


The company also offers ham and beef options as well as many kinds of turkey products.

But all is not rosy. Here’s a Slate piece of 11/24/15 by James E. McWilliams, “If You’re Buying a Turkey From Whole Foods Because It Was “Humanely” Raised, Read This First”:

In preparation for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, more consumers than ever before will seek turkeys that have been humanely raised. For these shoppers, optimistic messages offered by Whole Foods and other animal welfare–oriented food retailers will provide assurance that they’re making an ethical food choice. “Our birds live in harmony with the environment and we allow them plenty of room to roam,” explains a Diestel Turkey Ranch brochure, prominently displayed at many Whole Foods meat counters. Diestel turkeys raised at the Ranch’s main farm earn a 5+ welfare mark—the highest—from the nonprofit Global Animal Partnership, which contracts with third-party certifiers and administers the company’s rating system for humanely raised animal products. Diestel is one of only a handful of Whole Foods meat suppliers out of about 2,100 to achieve this remarkable distinction. So, along with the Diestel’s promise that “on our ranch a turkey can truly be a turkey,” it seems safe to assume that the Diestel turkeys sold at Whole Foods lived a decent life.

But a recent undercover investigation by the animal advocacy group Direct Action Everywhere tells a more complicated story. Located in Sonora, California, Diestel’s showcase farm gives every appearance of being a model operation. According to its brochure, as well as videos on the company’s website, healthy-looking turkeys roam shaded pastures in a natural setting. Yet, as investigators discovered, the birds roaming in Sonora may be at best a token sampling of Diestel’s overall turkey population. The main source of Diestel’s turkey output appears to be an industrial operation with 26 barns (housing about 10,000 birds each) located 3.5 miles down the highway in Jamestown, California. (This location earned a 3 from the Global Animal Partnership.) Direct Action investigators became suspicious in part because of a 2013 water discharge report — something the regional water board filed in response to complaints that toxic waste from a Diestel facility was making its way into local drinking water. The report also revealed that the Sonora farm produced about 1 percent of Diestel’s turkeys. So something didn’t add up.

Visits to Diestel’s Jamestown facility — conducted by Direct Action investigators over nine months (they just “walked right in”) — revealed horrific conditions, even by the standards of industrial agriculture.

Sacha Distel. From Wikipedia:

Alexandre “Sacha” Distel (29 January 1933 – 22 July 2004) was a French singer and guitarist who had hits with a cover version of the Academy Award-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (originally recorded by B. J. Thomas), “Scoubidou”, and “The Good Life”.

Sacha Distel, born Alexandre Distel, was the son of Russian White émigré Leonid Distel and French-Jewish pianist Andrée Ventura.

(I’m leaning on the Jewish connection to get to German thistles, but I could be wrong.)

Distel started his career as a jazz musician but shifted t more popular forms, at which he was a great sucess. A photo:


You can listen here to the original (1964) version of “La belle vie:.

The distelfink. From Wikipedia:

A distelfink is a stylized goldfinch, probably based on the European variety. It frequently appears in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. It represents happiness and good fortune and the Pennsylvania German people, and is a common theme in hex signs and in fraktur. The word distelfink (literally ‘thistle-finch’) is the German name for the European goldfinch.

Distelfinks come in single and double variants:



(The barns and the artwork on them are, of course, steadily disappearing.) An actual European goldfinch for comparison:


Bonus: Destiel. That is, Dean/Castiel fiction and art. The demon-hunter Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles, noted in earlier postings) + the angel Castiel (played by Misha Collins). (DESTIEL is of course an anagram of DIESTEL, which is where we came in.) Here they are kissing in a DeviantArt creation by Scifiangel, who writes:

I know it’s been done many times, but I just couldn’t help myself. (photo-manipulation run through a oil painting filter)


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