Thursday, December 10, 2009

Talking Turkey

This past September I tried to order a pasture-raised heritage turkey for our Thanksgiving meal, only to find that I was too late. Disappointed, I put myself on a waiting list at Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton, GA in the hopes that someone would fail to pick up their order. Alas, this didn’t happen. So, off to the supermarket I went to buy a frozen turkey just like everyone else. Photo credit: Curt Gibbs, ExperienceLA, Flickr

A few days after Thanksgiving I received an email from Nature’s Harmony announcing that they were taking orders for next year; I
immediately put down a deposit. Next year I’ll be serving a beautiful and delicious heritage turkey to my family and friends. At $7.00 per pound they are not cheap, but, even though it will hurt my bank account, a healthy, cruelty-free, pasture-raised, naturally reproducing turkey is “priceless” to me.

Wait, “naturally reproducing?” “Don’t all turkey reproduce naturally?” The answer is an unequivocal “No.” Turkeys sold at the supermarket—mainly the Broad Breasted White—no longer reproduce on their own and depend upon humans for artificial insemination. They have been bred by industrial agriculture to develop faster and produce more breast meat. Their large breast, coupled with the fact that they have shorter legs than standard breed turkeys, can make it impossible to stand, let alone climb atop a female for the act of perpetuating the species. I find this very disheartening and a bit scary. Maybe one day soon I’ll have the courage to follow in the footsteps of Novella Carpenter and raise a heritage turkey of my own, but I’m not quite there yet.

If you are interested in having a heritage turkey grace your table next year, go to Local Harvest to find a farm near you.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kelly,

    You will indeed be receiving a heritage turkey from us next year, and thanks for ordering! They're beautiful birds that have a great life and will be delicious on Thanksgiving. Like you, I wish they were cheaper than $7 per pound, even though that price is far cheaper than what others charge online. The problem is that it's just costly in terms of predation losses, growth rates, labor inefficiency and weather problems to raise slow-growing birds like these in a true natural setting. But it's well worth it, and we enjoy it. I'm sure you will too.

    Best regards,