Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stay away from enhanced breasts

I actually have a breast enhancement post in the works but I thought, since many of us are sitting down to unnatural breasts this Thanksgiving, I'd write about it now. No, I'm not talking about Hollywood stars (unless movies and TV are on your t-day schedule), I'm talking about your turkey. The majority of us eating turkey are eating either a bird that has been bred for huge knockers or has been unnaturally inflated with plumpers to expand their breasts.

What's the problem with this? Well, for the injected plumpers, you aren't paying for and eating turkey, you are paying for whatever they are injecting, most likely a mixture of saline. Just like a boob job, but without the implants. If you like the taste of watered down meat, then it's no big issue I suppose. You could get the same effect by brining it yourself at a lesser cost.

Add on top of this these broad-breasted bird are bred for big boobies, which means that their anatomy isn't well suited for, well, moving around. They are more prone to tipping over and not getting back up. This is a huge problem if they have access to open water and fall in, because their giant racks prevent them from righting themselves and they drown.

I know that there is a myth that turkeys are stupid animals, but when you look back at native wild turkeys, they were pretty damn smart and nearly impossible to hunt. We've bred the life-force out of them over the years, built to our specifications for dining, altering their anatomy such that their quality of life just ain't what it used to be. So, today, we have a factory mill of dumbed down turkeys, who need artificial insemination to reproduce because they forgot how.

What's the solution? Choose heritage turkeys that aren't bred for big boobs. These animals are the closest thing we've got to preserving a domesticated turkey without all the anatomical weirdness. Sure, they are harder to find since there aren't as many people out there raising them and they are more expensive than even the organic, free-range or pastured broad-breasted birds. But, if we create more of a demand for heritage turkeys, the supply will increase.

You don't need a freezer full of free and/or cheap-ass turkeys given away during the holidays because the cost to produce them is negligible (and reflects on their care and feeding). You don't need a 20 pound turkey to feed 4 people. If cost is an issue, choose a smaller bird of higher quality for not only your sake, but the turkey's. And, when in doubt, forgo the turkey altogether and choose either vegetarian or an animal that has been given the dignity of a decent life.


Farmer's Daughter said...

Thanks for the laugh! The turkeys we raise (and are headed over to cut up, vacuum seal, and freeze this morning) are heritage.

Though I have to say, I'm a fan of big boobs :) Some of us are just naturally endowed, and there's nothing wrong with that. Happy Thanksgiving!

Lisa said...

Thanks to you on this day for writing this post. Somewhere (so I'm afraid I can't cite the source) I read a line that always comes to mind when "cheap" is used in the same sentence with "meat." The idea is that someone pays for what we identify as "cheap;" a price that is usually paid by the animal. To me, this is unacceptable. I therefore opt to pay more on my end to ensure the animal doesn't have to on theirs. The costs are more evenly balanced and the animals live more turkey- (or cow- or pig- or whatever) like lives. But I'm probably preachin' to the choir here...

FernWise said...

Ironically, the big-booby turkeys are my local heritage - they were first developed about 9 miles from me, at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center here in Maryland.

Greenpa said...

I do enjoy your titillating entries.

For me, the big buzoomed turkeys are another excellent example of science gone incompetent and short-sighted.

Like all the beautiful roses you can buy- which have no scent whatsoever.

To me, those roses are an offence against the universe. No really, they anger me. Because their existence on the market means good breeders have either been greedy on their own, and presented the world with work only half done- or their work has been subverted for commercial purposes.

I don't see anything wrong in breeding turkeys so they produce more, better, or different meat. But breeding so they are incompetent organisms- is just astonishingly stupid. Bad science. Irritating.

It's going to be interesting to watch the resurgence of the small farmer and free range turkeys. My guess is you'll find genetic diversity cropping up- and some lucky farmer will wind up with Burbon Reds that have 40% more breast muscle than the old ones- but are still able to "do it" on their own... and are perfectly functional critters.

Someday. Happy Turkey Day Crunch. :-) (and everyone.)

Kelsie said...

Thanks to the fact that I've been addicted to your blog going on 2 years now, I volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year and splurged (in a fairly major way) on a pasture-raised heritage turkey from a local Amish family. I cannot WAIT to try this bird out--nor can I wait to put its carcass and giblets to use in some of the best broth I'll probably ever have.

This is going to be the most local, organic Thanksgiving dinner my family has had in decades--much of what I'm serving was grown in my garden this summer.

I am thankful for you and your fantastic blog, Crunchy. Thank you for opening my eyes and helping me realize the beauty of ethically obtained, local foods. I'll let you know how I liked the turkey!

Aimee said...

Greenpa, I am so with you on the roses. They are a slap in the face of true roses.
I was able to buy a heritage breed, pasture raised turkey from a neighbor. It does look a little funny, it's long and lanky rather than round, but I'm sure it's tasty. It was expensive, but I have saved so much on food this year through my trade network and growing my own that it's really not a big expense in the grand scheme of things.

RedStateGreen said...

I got a heritage turkey from a local farmer, and it was delicious. Long and lean, but very good. :)

Anonymous said...

We're fortunate to have a farm one town over from where we live that raises heritage turkeys. This is our 4th year in a row with one of their birds on our table - and I can say we don't miss the big-boobed kind of bird one bit!! :)

Diana R.Smith said...

We are so lucky to have a local Mennonite family who raise pastured turkeys and chickens. Our 16 pounder was sooooo delicious. Sure, more costly than Wallyworld but worth it. prefer to know where my food comes from. Personally, I'm a fan of legs/thighs so all I care about is I don't cook my bird so long that the breast meat, that everyone else seems to favor, is dry.

KLund said...

Or you could just go vegetarian or vegan. I made a homemade "tofurkey" this Thanksgiving and I think I actually enjoyed it more than any turkey meal I've had. I didn't have that terrible overstuffed feeling and it was delicious.

Lisa said...

We got a chicken because we couldn't find a good turkey that wasn't huge and we were only feeding 4.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I had Tourney for Thanksgiving. My husband and I planned to skip the family meal and serve one at a shelter instead. We didn't need a big bird for the two of us when we ate our own dinner, and since we like to try new foods, we went the Tofurkey route. The irony of two carnivores having a vegetarian Thanksgiving wasn't lost on us!

BTW, we stuffed ourselves and ate too much. It's possible on vegetarian fare too.

jewishfarmer said...

I will say, that while I'm not thrilled by the Broad Breasted White birds that are the typical, having raised turkeys for five years now, I haven't found that they are actually that much dumber than the heritage breeds. It is true they are too large to breed naturally, and there are good reasons not to love them, but I'm not sure that stupidity is one of them.

I have raised five different breeds of heritage turkeys as well as the broad breasted whites, and if you need a big turkey, the whites are a good choice - we had 27 at my Mom's this year, and that meant either a 30lb turkey or two of them.

I've had my heritage birds kill themselves too. All domesticated turkeys are sweet and dumb as toast, as far as I can tell.


ChookChick said...

As a small-holding poultry wrangler, I am very much in favour of folks appreciating free-range, cruelty-free birds. If one has consumed intensively-raised & chemically-enhanced animals for many years, the taste of the "kinder alternative" might seem a bit strange or "gamey" initially. But if one persists with naturally raised meats, soon the flavour of artificially "enhanced" flesh will leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth as well as in the conscience.
Our turkeys are Heritage Bronzewing, and in our experience they are much more accident-prone than other poultry. But we still adore them!