Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey

It is almost Thanksgiving in the U.S. and that is not good news for about 46 million turkeys. Madam has declared turkey as "not welcome" in the Monk house for various reasons but I agree if you are talking about the standard turkey that will appear in most American dinners this Thursday. The conventional Thanksgiving turkey purchased at the grocery store is a Broad Breasted White. These turkeys are bred to have so much breast meat, that they are often unable to physically support themselves or breed. That means that without human help, these birds would die out in just one generation. I don't know about you but this is just the sort of "franken food" that I really don't care to consume.

These really are a sad example of American big agriculture at its worst. Virtually all of the mass market birds grown for the Thanksgiving rush are factory farmed. This means that they are confined in crowded conditions and fed a high controlled diet of grain and hormones in order to be ready by the holiday. Most all are also injected with saline or other solutions to make them "juicy".

There is an alternative and that is the "heritage turkeys" that are becoming more available each year. The only problem is that these turkeys are real animals that are pasture raised and are not fed the high growth diets of the factory birds and therefore grow much slower. They are also very expensive when compared to the old "Butterball". I was in Whole Foods yesterday and stopped to look at what was being offered in the turkey case. Most in the case were free range all natural birds but still "Broad Breasted White" and they were going for about $50 bucks which is pretty pricey when compared to the conventional supermarket bird. They also had a few heritage birds but they were twice the price at about $100 a piece. Sorry, I don't like turkey that much but if I just had to have a turkey I would probably cough up the price for the smallest one I could find and failing that I would at least go free range.

So whatever you cook for Thanksgiving, whether it be the regular supermarket Butterball or some rare heritage gobbler make sure you honor the sacrifice the bird has made for your celebration and for Goddess' sake don't overcook it. That means ignore the "pop-up" thingy and use your thermometer. Oh! and also consider brining the sucker as it makes a world of difference.

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