Tuesday, December 14

Green Tip Tuesday *Holiday Edition *

Welcome to week #2 of Green Tip Tuesday, Holiday Edition! And did you know it's not Winter yet? It's still fall.... and I love it because it's my favorite time to go to the Farmers Market. When I was asking for guest bloggers I got an email from Diane from Turning the Clock Back and she wanted to tell everyone about buying locally grown Turkeys and that automatically got me thinking about my local Farmer's Market. I mean fresh, organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables doesn't beat those tin canned ones for making turkey pot pies and delicious warming soups! Here in the valley the sun is out almost year round and it doesn't get very cold, maybe a few weeks of freezing temperatures. Stop on by your local farmers market and just take a stroll, ask questions if you have any and just buy what you need. Don't forget your reusable bags!

Let's now welcome out Guest Blogger, Diane and her Sexually Frustrated Turkey! (Got to love the title)

My name is Diane and I have a hectic life that includes work, a husband, 2 kids, a dog, and a bird. I am passionate about the environment but refuse to give up my high tech toys. I spend way too much on organic milk and local, grass fed beef but have a horrible Cheeto addiction and get quite agitated when there is no more diet Coke in the house. I am trying to step back and simplify my life in the hopes of improving myself and the world around me. I hope that my blog helps even one or two people make the switch to a more healthy and ecofriendly existence.
If you are interested in going green, getting healthy, and simpliflying your life you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog Turning the Clock Back.

That is NOT the most attractive looking bird I have ever seen but it, along with millions of it's relatives, will be on dining room tables around the country next month. I am not going to advocate that you skip the main dish and go meatless, although that is certainly an option. I AM, however, going to provide you with some information that you might want to consider before picking up your turkey at the grocery store.

I am considering purchasing a farm raised, heritage breed turkey for our Thanksgiving Day meal. I recently read a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and there was one chapter that had me incredibly sad yet laughing all at the same time. The author's attempts to raise and breed heritage turkeys is downright amusing!

Americans consume over 400 million turkeys each year, most of them are the exact same breed of Broad-Breasted White. This is an an incredibly fast growing breed that has been developed for the industrial setting. Unlike its' sleek wild turkey cousins, as adults they are incapable of flying, foraging, or even mating. Yes, these poor overbred animals are absolutely unable to have sex. In fact, if they were to actually escape slaughter there is no way they would survive past 1 year because their immense bodies would be so heavy that their legs would collapse under its' own weight. As one industry publication explains, “If a seven pound(human) baby grew at the same rate that today’s turkey grows, when the baby reached 18 weeks of age, it would weigh 1,500 pounds.”
Genetic selection of the Broad-Breasted white is based only on how fast the animal grows and how stupid and inactive it is. Stupid, inactive, and fast growing means higher profit for factory farms. Increased breast size is vitally important, as well, and as a result the turkey's body is almost deformed it is so lopsided.
"Turkeys have been selected to grow muscle mass very quickly, but growth of the skeleton and the internal organs has not kept up." As a result, we are left with birds that barely have the strength to stand or walk, let alone fly, forage and mate like they should! They require factory workers to extract the semen manually (Big ICK!) and artificially inseminate the females.
The picture at the right is a heritage breed turkey (a Narragansett according to the source). The Heritage Turkey Foundation "was formed to protect the surviving heritage turkey strains and re-introduce them to the American marketplace." Supermarket turkeys grow to an average of 32 pounds over 18 weeks. Heritage birds take anywhere from 24-30 weeks to reach their market weight. Obviously, you are going to pay more for a heritage turkey that has been farm raised. The price comparison I come up with is 69 cents a pound for a traditional supermarket turkey on sale for Thanksgiving versus the price on localharvest.org of anywhere from $70 to $225 for one bird, depending on size (between an 8 pound hen and a 20 pound Tom). I was a little floored when I saw the prices! I called Whole Foods and they told me that they offer organic turkeys or farm raised heirloom breeds for $3.99 a pound. (they don't offer a turkey that is organic AND farm raised AND heirloom variety) According to Whole Foods, their turkeys come from Diestel Turkey Ranch in California. The website has a lot of interesting information and photos if you are interested in checking it out.

Of course, I have no idea of how a heritage turkey actually tastes. (anyone want to provide personal input here?) There is an interesting article in Mother Earth News about a comparison test based on flavor, texture, tenderness, aroma and appearance. They chose 8 heritage breeds and a butterball for the test and when the tally was counted all eight of the heritage turkey varieties came out ahead of the industrial variety. I think I am going to call Whole Foods and order one.

If you are interested in ordering a heritage turkey from any of these sources, call NOW because there are already a lot of farms that are sold out for the holidays and Whole Foods is already taking reservations for a limited number of birds!


Thanks so much Diane for the wonderful post and information. My great aunt ordered one from Whole Foods, however I didn't get to taste it because she lives a few hours away... but I heard it was a great eat! Even if you don't buy or a have a local farm that raises turkeys start off small. Like I said visit your local farmers market today!

Stay tuned next week for another edition of Green Tip Tuesday!
And like always, everyone is welcome to email me your green tips, just click the Contact at the top of my blog.

2 comments:

  1. thanks so much for letting me contribute to your Green Tip Tuesday!

    We enjoyed our free range turkey from Whole Foods. Honestly, couldn't tell the difference compared to traditionally raised turkey. Other than the price, of course! But knowing that the critter at least got a chance to roam free and do turkey things during it's life makes me feel slightly less guilty about eating him :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. We love buying local groceries whenever we can. Some of the best meat comes from a small town butcher that we visit only a few times a year but we stock up whenever we can. Great green tip for the Holidays!
    Good guest post too.

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