Last updated on May 20th, 2017
How to Honor a Turkey This Thanksgiving
Turkeys of America, I salute you. Year after year you give selflessly of yourselves in order that we may gather together with family and friends for the traditional Thanksgiving feast. You are the star, the center of attention and the object of many ooohs and aaahhs.
You may be roasted, stuffed, smoked or skewered on a rotisserie, but you are always savored. Your endless talents of transformation are nothing short of astounding as you can morph yourself into a myriad of salads, soups and sandwiches to be enjoyed by humans for days beyond the initial Thanksgiving feast.
If you are a lovely Broad-Breasted White, your brief life of 12-14 weeks has been spent far less ceremoniously, at a confined feeding operation where you endured many unpleasantries too sordid to mention here. If you are of the Heritage family of fowl, (1% of the Thanksgiving dinner market), you may have enjoyed an additional 10 weeks on this earth, experiencing more desirable activities such as roosting and roaming the farm.
To all of you noble birds, I give thanks for your sacrifice and for sustaining us with your rich nutrients of protein, iron, zinc, potassium and many others. Thanks too for keeping our fat and carb intake in check.
And to the noble turkeys who will never make it to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner table I offer a special word of gratitude. You know who you are. You are among the 226 million turkeys (fancy shmancy Heritage, farm raised, fresh, organic or otherwise), that will be passed over because you were too big or too small or too darn expensive or just one of the surplus turkeys that are harvested. After all, there are 271 million of you each year.
I know it’s embarrassing to be marked down to $.40 a pound from $1.19, so I acknowledge your sacrifice. What becomes of you, I know not. Perhaps if you are frozen (as are the other 99% of turkeys) you’ll make it to Christmas dinner.
One of our most brilliant, and I might add wittiest, founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin criticized the choice of the Bald Eagle as the national bird of the new United States, suggesting that a Turkey would have made a better alternative.
In a letter he wrote to his daughter, Sarah Bache on January 26, 1784 he is quoted here as saying:
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him(…..) the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”
So when you, dear readers, sit down to give thanks at the Thanksgiving table, you may wish to thank turkeys everywhere for their unwitting generosity, their healthful constituents, and as Ben Franklin would say, their courage.
In the meantime, why not honor yourself as well this holiday season? Choose grass fed, farm raised organic poultry.
Here is a site list where you can find local organic, farm raised and Heritage turkeys.
Local Harvest Turkeys – www.localharvest.org/store/turkey.jsp
Animal Welfare Approved Turkeys – find turkeys by state/locality – www.animalwelfareapproved.org
Eat Well Guide – www.eatwellguide.org/localguide
Eat Wild – www.eatwild.com
Wishing you all a happy, safe, stress-free holiday.