Organic products are the fasted growing segment of food sales and New Jersey organic turkeys are no exception to this trend.
With Thanksgiving being the most celebrated and most heavily traveled time of the year for family and friends to come together for a festive meal, it is also a time of the year that turkey sales are at their peak.
Organically grown poultry does not use antibiotics. Antibiotics, growth hormones and artificial flavors and colors are forbidden in the production of certified organic foods which must comply with strict national standards.
A core value of the organic movement is to grow and raise farm products on small farms that are locally and regionally available to the consumer. In addition to fresher foods and reduced fossil fuel consumption, the profit from the sale of locally produced foods is more likely to find its way back into the community.
The Garden State Is Ideal For Organic Farmed Turkeys
While New Jersey is not noted for having the land mass to attract the large commercial farms, it is ideally situated to accommodate the small, family farm who can sustain a profitable income with organic produce, meats and poultry, purchased in the community by local consumers.
Are Factory Grown "Supermarket Turkeys" Healthy?
Turkeys raised by commercial farms are very different today than the turkeys found on the Thanksgiving Day table our grandparents and ancestors cooked. Today, the large majority of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are grown on commercial farms.
Commercially grown turkeys are raised in confinement in crowded conditions and are fed a diet of grain and supplements like antibiotics and growth hormones, and are packaged with artificial flavors and colors for an attractive display at your local supermarket. Antibiotics are routinely used in commercial agriculture to accelerate livestock growth and prevent diseases common to confined living quarters. Turkeys are force fed chemicals that are designed to grow large, white meaty breasts.
The popular factory raised turkey is the Broad Breasted White and are so obese that they can barely walk, fly or even lay eggs. They are incapable of mating and are artificially inseminated. Because they lack immunity to a host of diseases, they receive antibiotics in their feed. These bionic birds are sent to market in only twelve weeks. By limiting turkey production to a single strain, we are putting at risk the longevity of the breed. As a result, game bird conservationists are promoting the idea that heritage birds may someday be needed to save the bionic raised birds.
The "Supermarket" White Turkey
The White Turkey is a cross breed that is the most popular turkey sold in supermarkets. The commercially raised broad breasted white turkey is sometimes referred to as the "supermarket turkey" that is bionically raised and sent to market in 12 weeks.
The Popular New Jersey Organic Turkey
Heritage Turkeys - The Red Bourbon Turkey
Heritage turkeys are turkeys that have not been crossbred to enlarge its size and are the birds our ancestors ate at their Thanksgiving celebrations. At the turn of the 20th century each region of the country had its favorite breed of turkey. One of the more popular heritage turkeys raised in New Jersey is the Red Bourbon turkey. The Red Bourbon takes longer to grow, usually 26-28 weeks, is smaller and leaner bird with darker meat, but there is still enough white meat to satisfy everyone. The Red Bourbon turkey is better tasting, without any gamy taste.
Turkey Cooking Tip
Contrary to way most turkeys are cooked, do not roast your turkey with the stuffing inside the cavity. The stuffing inside prevents the interior of the turkey to reach sufficient temperatures to kill all the bacteria. Cook the stuffing and turkey separately.