Friday, November 18, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Let's Talk Turkey!

I bought an Organic Turkey for Thanksgiving this year!

So why did I go organic - I know you are wondering .... Well, at first, I thought about getting a heritage turkey - a natural turkey, full of genetic diversity, no hormones or antibiotics, but I was afraid the Midget White and Bourbon Red varieties would not be enough for my 20 guests and ...I'm not a sadist - I didn't want to have make more than one bird. So, I went with a USDA certified organic, sustainable Broadbreasted White turkey.

This year, I wanted to buy a turkey that was not:
  • Grown on a factory farm
  • Fed antibiotics or treated with pesticides
  • Fed properly - without growth enhancers
Studies show: The healthiest meat comes from animals raised on pasture, outdoors, in a natural state. I didn't want to get a turkey from a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) where they cut off the bird's beak and give anywhere from 10,000-55,000 birds or more - their own area to live that is about the size of a piece of notebook paper!
Debeaked & Living in Fesces
P.S Don't rely on the words "Free Range", they are sometimes only words put on a label to get consumers to think the animal lived on a wide-open farm - they want to sell their product - that label means nothing! It's just like some cosmetic companies putting cancerous dyes in lipsticks and then running a breast cancer awareness campaign - they want you to think they are doing the right thing, so they can sell their product!

Now, I realize sustainable farming practices do not guarantee that each bird will have at least four feet to live, but now that I have established some contacts, I can verify their sustainable farming practices. I have contacted several local farmers who offer USDA organic poultry and they are passionate about sustainable farming practices - these farmers will get my $ votes!

I also did not want to buy a turkey that was treated with pesticides (how else do you get rid of unwanted insects or rodents in a poultry house?) or fed antibiotics. It has been recognized by the WHO that overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animals is the number one source of antibiotic-resistant bacteria affecting humans, today! Whether they are sick, or not, poultry can be fed up to 4 different antibiotics in their short lifetime!
Watch out for the up and coming,
new and improved SUPERBUG!

This year, I also wanted to make sure my turkey was fed properly. I wanted to rule out any chance of growth enhancers (echem, hormones) or any "synthetic" food additives. It is also not uncommon for factory farmed poultry to be fed animal protein, beef by-products - even blood. If this feed - animal protein, blood or beef by-products - came from an animal which was fed hormones, your bird is being fed hormones!  Sustainably fed USDA Organic poultry eat organic grasses, greens, grains and insects. I'm sure you have recently seen the eggs boasting Omega-3 - that's because some farmers mix flax seeds (full of omega-3 fatty acids) into their grains.

Lastly, I didn't want a turkey that was submerged in a "chill bath" full of disinfectants like chlorine dioxide. These disinfectants can combine with organic matter (the actual turkey meat or wastes) and give rise to disinfectant by-products (DBPs). In the USA, DBPs are chemicals associated with rectal, pancreatic & bladder cancers!

And one more thing - I wanted to pull my hand out of what I call "the arsenic-loop". This is when feed containg arsenic is fed to poultry, which then gets passed to their manure, which is then used to fertilize crops - spreading arsenic, contaminating our fruits, our vegetables, our ground water and oh, yeah, 
I will let you know how my organic turkey turns out! 
This year, I will cook my turkey knowing that my bird grew in a healthy environment, in a way that did not stress out the bird or our environment,
or the employees who raised it,
or my 20 guests who will eat it!

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