Friday, November 21, 2008

The case for organic turkeys

Have you ever wondered where the 45 million turkeys consumed each year on Thanksgiving come from? Me neither, but with being sick this week and watching way to much TV, unfortunately I found out. Deciding to watch something educational or mind stimulating, I found a show called "How It's Made" on the Discovery Channel. I thought, "Great! I'll get to learn how something cool is made!" until I heard the the topic was turkeys. In an hour of way too much information on turkeys, here's what I learned:

  • The average life of a "farmed" turkey is 5 months.
  • Since the demand for turkey is so high, commercial turkey farms artificially inseminate all their female birds (who wants that job? And yes, they showed how it's done. Eeww.)
  • Females are allowed 1 hour to lay their eggs, then they are mechanically booted out of the cage to make room for the next bird.
  • Once the female lays her eggs, she is immediately inseminated again!
  • The eggs are packed up daily and taken to a hatching facility.
  • A hatching facility incubates 200,000 eggs a day and approximately 900,000 eggs are hatched in one week.
  • Chicks are kept in cages for almost a month before being sent to "the farm" where they will live out the rest of their short 5 month life.
  • Chicks follow humans around the farm trying to find their mothers (All I could think of was the children's book, "Are You My Mother?)
  • There are a series of 4 barns the turkeys will move through until they're ready to be "packaged." As far as conditions in the barns? Not that great.

Organically raised turkeys are usually free range and get lots of fresh air, real sunshine, and certified organic feed that is free of synthetic pesticides and antibiotics. Their diet of high quality grains and vegetable proteins also make for a tastier bird. Here's a great article from Bon Appetit magazine on choosing the right turkey for your thanksgiving meal. As far as what will be on our table this year? Well, after watching this program, we'll be having sushi.


Winnie said...

I have just discovered your lovely blog and thank you for the informative post re: organic turkeys. Last year I took my 8 yr old son with me to a grass-fed meats only butcher to pick up our organic turkey for Thanksgiving. He got very upset during the process (the place was packed with many people picking up their turkeys) and decided at that moment he would no longer participate in "eating dead animals". He has been a vegetarian ever since. I try to only eat grass-fed organic meats but I eat them far less of them now out of respect for his wishes that we not have a lot of meat at home...
I will be serving an organic turkey again this year, and he understands it is a special meal for the rest of us, but he won't be coming with me to pick it up and we'll have lots and lots of veggies dishes to go along to make the turkey seem like less of a big deal- hopefully there won't be tears at the table this year!

HipMomma said...

You are so right! Awesome post. This is also why we are so crazy about buying eggs from free range chickens. Have you ever watched Stuff Happens with Bill Nye? I think it's on the Green Channel. Great program, right up your alley.

Nicole said...

Hi Winnie! I just discovered your website, Healthy Green Living, so now it's my turn to say thank you!

cottage farm villa (aka cottagecharm) said...

Nicole, it is Cheryl, in Dallas. I wanted to let you know that you inspired me along with a couple of other gals to start a blog. Please visit me from time to time at CottageFarmVilla....heading to Roberta's for the to you soon. Hope you are feeling better.... ~Cheryl said...

how funny....we just had this same conversation about where do all the turkeys come from...