It’s Time to Talk Turkey

Gobble gobble goo

and Gobble gobble gickel

I wish turkey

Only cost a nickel

– Adam Sandler (Thanksgiving Song)

Most people know that Benjamin Franklin had wanted the Turkey to the Official Bird of the United States. We are instead represented by the Bald Eagle, a bird that is less intelligent and lacks the “moral character” held by the turkey. Wild turkeys hold themselves with an awkward dignity that most people only get a chance to admire during Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, domesticated turkeys don’t get to live with such dignity

In order to create the “best” food product domesticated turkeys have been “engineered” in ways that diminish the quality of their lives. Domesticated turkeys weigh an average of 10 pounds more than a wild turkey (Check out this graphic at the Huffington Post).  Because of this excess weight, domesticated turkeys cannot fly like their wild counterparts, which can fly short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. Domesticated turkeys also develop swollen joints and crippled feet.

Domesticated turkeys are breed to have white feathers instead of brown feathers which wild turkeys have. White feathers have finer shafts making the shafts less visible once the feathers are plucked. Though these white feathers make a more appetizing plucked turkey (no nasty ingrowns), they do not have the beautiful rainbow sheen that the brown feathers of a wild turkey have.

99% of turkeys raised for Thanksgiving will be “broad breasted whites” and most will be produced in industrialized farming. Industrialized farming is bad for the birds (besides being debilitated from being overweight their beaks are also clipped beaks so they can not hurt each other). It is also risky to the industry and humans.  Most Industrially raised turkeys are raised using high levels of antibiotics which can lead to antibiotic resistance in humans.

Instead of picking out an industrially farmed turkey from your local supermarket try a Heritage Breed Turkey from a independent poultry farmer.

Heritage Breeds are usually raised on small farms and have longer “growing periods” than their commercially raised brethren. Longer growth periods result in a bird with more flavor. Unfortunately this longer growing period also means that Heritage Breeds are also more expensive, costing upwards of $5 per pound.

To find your nearest Heritage Turkey Breeds visit Local Harvest or Slow Foods USA, websites dedicated to helping people find local sustainable food.

For more Thanksgiving tips from the ENN Blog Click Here

*Fun fact: Only male turkeys (aka toms) gobble, female hens make a clicking noise.

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 at 09:57
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