During this holiday season we like to weigh in about the importance of sustainability and encourage you all to choose wisely when making your food purchases.
99.9% of all turkeys produced for food in the world are not heritage breeds like the birds above, they are one particular hybrid breed called Broad Breasted Whites.
We have made a devil's bargain with the poultry we raise for food. We have chosen the speed with which the animals grow and their feed conversion - the ratio of the amount of food the birds eat to the body weight of the animal - over pretty much all other factors. The one other factor is color: white feathers means a bird that appears cleaner when plucked, because any unplucked follicles are full of white feather parts not colored feather parts.
When you choose for conversion rate you get birds that mature really fast, but the bird's skeletal structure and internal organs do not grow that much faster. As a result the birds suffer from broken bones and buckled joints as their immature bones try in vain to support their gargantuan weight. These birds also have a much higher ratio of white meat because of two factors: they are too fat to move effectively and their hearts and lungs are too small to effectively oxygenate their muscle tissue. Nice right?
We need to be clear about one other thing when it comes to "Heritage Breed" animals we are not talking about some exotic critters. To the contrary, these are Standard Breeds, literally the standard, accepted, common breeds that all farmers raised until about 60 years ago when the hybrids appeared.
Heritage birds have proven themselves as truly sustainable, year after year, in good weather and bad, in lean years and in bountiful years, by generation after generation of farmers. In other words, these were the birds that sustained us.
Heritage birds do not grow as fast and they eat a lot more, but they use some of the calories from the food they eat to do things like forage for their own food, explore, play, be inquisitive, interact with one another and mate. They are, in short, a real, complete, fully expressed creature that is capable of sustaining itself. What a concept. And did I mention that they taste really delicious too?
Wouldn't you rather eat something that you know was healthy? Just a thought.