Let’s Talk Turkey

‘Tis the season for decorations, shopping and Christmas parties. Unless you have gone vegan or vegetarian, you will also most likely be buying the turkey that will be the centerpiece for your Christmas dinner. You may be surprised to learn that what you think you are buying may not necessarily be so.

A commercial grade bird is raised in a large barn, usually with no access to the outdoors. Not likely a surprise to anyone.

A grain fed turkey means there are no meat by-products in its feed. However Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) has made meat by-products pretty much a no-no in livestock feed. And grain feed does not mean the turkey didn’t live its life in a barn, or worse, in a cage in a barn.

The term “free range” congers up images of turkeys happily gobbling outdoors with a warm indoor structure they can access at will. However in Canada the term is not regulated so a ‘free range’ turkey could have been raised in the confines of a barn, even a crowded barn, although would not have spent its life in a cage.

An organic turkey means it has been raised on pesticide and herbicide free feed, and without antibiotics. In Canada, organic is a federally regulated certification.

Claims of ‘no hormones‘ on the label of a turkey in your grocery store should not be a selling point, as in Canada poultry producers are not permitted to use growth hormones. Essentially all turkeys are hormone free.

The bottom line is that unless you buy direct from the farmer and can question him on how his turkeys are raised, or better yet observe for yourself, you could buy a grain fed bird that has spent its life in a cage, or a free range turkey that has lived its life in a crowded barn.

Maybe that is why many people have chosen to go TURKEY FREE and serve tofu turkey which has not lived its life in questionable conditions for the consumption of an unsuspecting consumer.

Food for Thought
Cathy Fenton

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