Author Topic: America: Land That I Love  (Read 671 times)

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Offline america

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America: Land That I Love
« on: May 01, 2006, 11:50:09 AM »
This is really sad.  Our heritage turkeys are diminishing.  The turkeys bred now do not know how to mate naturally and are even unable to walk.
William Rubel
Author and Cook Specializing in Traditional Cooking
  http://www.williamrubel.com/magicoffire/heritage.turkey.html

© 2005 by William Rubel
 Standard Breed or "Heritage Turkeys"



This drawing of a Narragansett tom is from the Cyclopedia of American agriculture; a popular survey of agricultural conditions, practices and ideals in the United States and Canada published in 1919.

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Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall; Braun, pudding and sauce, and good mustard withal; Beef, mutton and pork, shred pies of the best; Pig, veal, goose and capon, and turkey well drest; Cheese, apples and nuts; jolly carols to hear; All these in the country are counted good cheer.
Thomas Tusser, 1573

What is now being called a heritage turkey is what poultry breeders call a "standard breed." This is a bird that has been bread to be true to one of the older registered turkey varieties. These are the Beltsville Small White, Black, Standard   Bronze, Narragansett, Slate, White Holland, Royal Palm, and Bourbon Red. Tom Reese, one of the leading forces behind the American revival of standard breed poultry, and especially the turkey, identifies three qualities that a heritage bird must have - it must be able to breed naturally, live seven to nine years, and grow slowly.

The modern commercial turkey, the Broad Breasted Bronze and Large White, became the dominant bird of American turkey of commerce in the second half of the twentieth century. The Broad Breasted White was selected to produce a lot of meat quickly. The body shape of the bird was altered to promote the development of meat. These birds have shorter breast bones, and shorter legs than standard turkeys. As a consequence, these birds cannot mate naturally - they are bred through artificial insemination -- nor they walk normally. These birds waddle, and mature birds get so heavy in relation to their misaligned bodies, that many cannot walk. These birds are also short-lived. Feather color, like skin color in humans, is nothing more than a superficial characteristic. The Broad Breasted turkey exists in both a white and a brown version - "bronze" - in the language of turkey breeders. To identify a standard-bred heritage turkey one must look beyond feather color to the qualities I mentioned above, ability to reproduce, long-lived, and slow growing.

Flavor in a bird - or in any animal that we eat - is a product of four factors - the fundamental underlying flavor of its meat, its age, how it was raised, and what it ate. Older animals have more flavor than younger ones. Because heritage turkeys - standard varieties - grow more slowly than modern commercial varieties, they tend to have more intrinsic flavor. This said, turkey is a subtle taste, and it matters a great deal how the animals were raised, and what they ate.

The more an animal moves around, the more interesting its flavor. Thus, turkeys raised on pasture get more exercise than those raised in buildings. Turkeys that eat green grass, plants, and insects have a deeper taste than birds that are raised on an exclusive grain diet. And different grains also produce different flavors. As standard-bred turkeys, "heritage turkeys," are slaughtered at seven or eight months, rather than three or four months for the Broad Breasted Bronze or the Large White, they will have more intrinsic flavor, and if they have been raised on pasture, then their flesh will be as fully flavored as it can be.

The more you know about the producer whose heritage turkey you buy, the more likely that you will be able to choose a high quality product. And what about "organic." For animals to be certified "organic" they need to eat certified organic grains. Many farmers find organic grains too expensive to buy as animal feed. I personally feel that the way the animal is raised is more important than whether it is technically "organic." I look for turkeys that are pasture-raised rather then turkeys raised in buildings and dirt lots.

The Broad Breasted Bronze and Large White turkeys were developed for rapid growth and a large breast -- as the name implies. Standard breeds have a more normal relationship between dark and white meat.

In the late 1990's the demise of older turkey stocks seemed to be sealed. Plotting the decline in number of breeding pairs of several standard turkey varieties it seemed clear that the trend was leading inexorably to zero. And then, through the innovative thinking of Slow Food USA, a market was developed for varieties of turkeys that were threatened with extinction. Suddenly, what had seemed obvious wasn't obvious at all. In the strange logic of barnyard conservation, the more you eat them, the more there will be. The revival of heritage turkeys preserves genetic variety, and also keeps alive an American culinary traditions that go back to the first years of English settlement.

In fact, stocks of several of the standard breed heritage turkeys are now large enough for the better breeders to begin again the long and careful process of improving the lines. In their long decline, the breeders were more concerned with keeping birds that were true to type in terms of their feather coloration than they were breeding for birds that both had good color and good meat production. As we continue to eat heritage turkeys, and thus support the breeders who are at the center of this revival, the quality of the birds will further improve.

Where do the Narragansett, the Bourbon Red, the Jersey Buff, the Standard Bronze, and other heritage turkey varieties come from? Turkeys are native to North America. They grow wild in our forests. But they were also domesticated long before the Spanish conquest. When the Spanish arrived at what is today Mexico, they found domesticated turkeys. They brought turkeys to Spain in 1498 where they were quickly accepted. In fact, turkey was the quickest of the New World foods to be adopted in Europe. By the time the English settlers came to New England in the early seventeenth-century, they were well acquainted with turkeys. Turkey was established in England by the 1540's, and by the 1570's they were raised throughout the country, and were already part of the Christmas feast. The quotation at the top of this page by Thomas Tusser from the 1570s is an example of the written evidence we have for the adoption of turkey in sixteenth-century England.

The early English settlers to what is now New England brought turkeys with them, and although they encountered wild turkeys in the forests, they wanted domesticated turkeys for their barnyard. "Tame turkeys" were on the list of expedition supplies requested by the Massachusetts governor in 1628. Domesticated turkeys provide a reliable source of meat throughout the year, and were a fixture in the poultry yard, along with chickens, ducks, and geese. I recently spent time in Romania. Turkeys are still part of the poultry stock of Romanian subsistence farmers. Turkeys are tethered in many yards, and also walk along the sides of roads foraging for food.

The American turkey breeding program didn't really begin in earnest until the first decades of the nineteenth-century when American breeders began crossing European varieties with wild turkeys. Up to that point, the American domesticated turkey stock maintained European bloodlines. The revival of heritage turkeys means the revival of turkey varieties that were officially recognized by the American Poultry Association beginning in the 1870s. Conceptually, a standard-bred turkey is like a standard-bred cat, dog, horse, cow, or any other animal for which we humans have selected for animals with clearly defined characteristics. When an animal - like a turkey - is standard-bred, it means that turkeys interbreeding within that group will breed true to type. When it comes to turkeys, the emphasis up until the mid-twentieth century was largely focused on coloration, with body-type being a secondary concern.

Historically -- if one looks back to English cookbooks published in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries -- turkeys were eaten for much of the year. In the early summer the birds were small. In the fall and early winter the birds were large. Historically, farmers culled their domesticated animals in the late fall -- including their poultry -- because they couldn't afford to keep large stocks through the winter. Even today, in countries like Lithuania and Romania where country people still live off their land, poultry flocks are thinned in the fall. As it happens that Thanksgiving in America, and Christmas in Europe, takes place just when flocks are reduced, the tradition grew up of serving large prize birds at the feast. In modern practice, this is virtually the only time Americans cook whole turkeys.

And no wonder! The holiday turkey is too big for a normal dinner!

From reading early cookbooks it is clear that in the past people were more attuned to the culinary qualities of turkeys at different stages of its life. A young bird with "soft beak and toes" yields tender mild breast meat. An older bird yields a more flavorful roast. Cookbooks in the eighteenth century, as well as cookbooks in the late nineteenth century, often specified small turkeys -- even as small as six pounds. In my own experiments with these birds I must say that I am now hugely enthusiastic about small turkeys and hope that a market will one day develop for them.
 Standard Breed "Heritage Turkey" Varieties

Jersey Buff
Link 1 & Link 2

Narragansett
Link1 & Link 2

Bourbon Red
Link 1 & Link 2

Standard Bronze
Link 1 & Link 2

Learn more about the Slow Food Heritage Turkey Program

 




 
 
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Offline america

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Re: America: Land That I Love
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2006, 12:02:47 PM »
I have the entire uncensored version downloaded.
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Offline america

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Re: America: Land That I Love
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2006, 12:16:18 PM »


Bourban Reds are one of a few of the heritage turkeys able to breed naturally.  They say they will run off with a wild tom if not caged.
Must be that red hair. ;)
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Offline america

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Re: America: Land That I Love Goodbye to Vermont Farms.
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2006, 04:29:48 PM »
AS a few good people are trying to salvage our heritage turkeys, the government is sweeping in with bird flu alerts.  They are wanting to outlaw free range chickens/turkeys.   
http://www.caledonianrecord.com/pages/letters_to_editor/story/100a411d0

Say goodbye to Vermont farms
Friday April 14, 2006

   
To the Editor:

The U.S. government has maintained a high level of fear with the threat of diseases such as SARS, West Nile virus, mad cow disease, and avian influenza. Why drum up fear in the U.S. population? Fear drives the creation of new laws, which is slowly reducing our rights and liberties.

What is the latest law being created? It is called the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). What is NAIS and how will it affect you?

Anyone who owns livestock, including horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, alpacas and poultry, whether for food or simply pets, will be required to register each animal. The USDA states NAIS is required to prevent disease by enabling them to track where a sick animal originated from within 48 hours.

Animal owners will be required to pay registration, ear tag or RFID chips fees and notify within 24 hours - or face fines for non-compliance - the government every time the animal leaves the property. This includes trail rides, vet visits, animal shows/fairs or accidental escapes. A fee may also be required for each event reported.

Fees might be manageable for a person with one or two animals, but what about larger farms with 50 or 100 animals? It could be the end of many farms in Vermont and open spaces. Goodbye cows, hunting and scenic drives. Hello vast housing developments.

Only the largest poultry producers will be left because they will have the advantage of the lower cost method of registering their animals as a group vs. individual animals required for the public.

Why should the public care if there are no local farmers left? The greatest drawback of large producers is the low genetic diversity of their birds. Birds are kept in extremely close quarters and require heavy doses of antibiotics to remain healthy. Overuse of antibiotics results resistant strains of bacteria such as salmonella, which can infect humans and make treatment more difficult. Low genetic diversity and the stress from being in such confined quarters could make the birds more susceptible to viruses such as avian influenza, potentially wiping out a portion of the U.S. food supply.

NAIS will enable the government to check the database, confiscate and slaughter all sick or healthy animals if there is an outbreak. Say goodbye to your beloved horse, your prized show chicken or the animals you raised for food for your family because you want to know what is in your food or prefer free-range animals as opposed to those kept in small cage.

What will NAIS cost? In 2004, $18.8 million was spent and another $33 million is being devoted to implement the program. Do you think $51 million could be used in better ways? After spending $80 billion to $100 billion on the war on terrorism, I suppose this is just another drop in the bucket for the U.S. taxpayers.

Do we need NAIS? Mad cow disease was one of the driving factors for NAIS, but according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Mad cow disease has been declining at a rate of 50 percent each year for the past three years. There were five deaths worldwide in 2005, all of which were in the United Kingdom. Education is what prompted the decline, not an information tracking system.

With declining death rates of mad cow, SARS, and West Nile virus, what is the newest disease that will keep NAIS implementation alive and on track? Avian influenza.

The next pandemic could occur if the avian influenza virus mutates in a bird such as a chicken and then infects the human population. This is assuming the virus mutates in domestic poultry vs. the wild bird population.

If avian influenza does mutate and infects humans, it could result in mortality rates as high as 500,000 in the United States. This number comes from the 1918 pandemic, the worst flu pandemic in history. Should it scare you? I don't think it should be as scary as the government wants you to believe. Let me put this number in perspective.

In 2003, 685,000 people died from heart disease, 557,000 people died from cancer, and 158,000 people died from cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke. Over 1 million people died from three common diseases.

The high death rates in the 1918 flu outbreak was due to many reasons, including a country at war and the lack of federal, state and local public health networks. Without the public health system, the disease was ignored and allowed to reach unprecedented numbers. We now have a public health system in place that DOES work. Later pandemics in 1957 and 1968 show consistent decline in the number of deaths; 70,000 and 34,000 respectively. These numbers pale in comparison to the number of people that do die every year from heart disease alone. The current average death toll due to influenza each year is 36,000. That number is actually higher than the 1968 outbreak.

If avian influenza mutates inside a bird, such as a chicken, and infects a human, how will the NAIS data be useful? Could NAIS find the one chicken responsible for causing the pandemic? Would the $51 million system matter at that point in finding the one chicken responsible for the outbreak? It will be the public health system with epidemiological investigations and the establishment of quarantines that will prevent the spread of an outbreak of influenza.

NAIS puts our freedoms and food supply at risk. I think it is time for the people of Vermont to speak up and tell big government to stop spending money on systems that aren't needed and to start putting it into useful areas such as healthcare and education. If the government insists on having a tracking system in place, wouldn't it make more sense to microchip the human population and track their travels as they cross international lines around the world? People are more likely to make other people sick, not animals, but that is a whole other can of worms.

Christine LaBarre

Moretown
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Offline dominique

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Re: America: Land That I Love Goodbye to Vermont Farms.
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2006, 09:42:11 PM »
AS a few good people are trying to salvage our heritage turkeys, the government is sweeping in with bird flu alerts.  They are wanting to outlaw free range chickens/turkeys.   

Why does this not surprise me.


Quote
Anyone who owns livestock, including horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, alpacas and poultry, whether for food or simply pets, will be required to register each animal. The USDA states NAIS is required to prevent disease by enabling them to track where a sick animal originated from within 48 hours.

Animal owners will be required to pay registration, ear tag or RFID chips fees and notify within 24 hours - or face fines for non-compliance - the government every time the animal leaves the property.

God damn these bastards and their alphabet-soup of agencies and programs.

Quote
Fees might be manageable for a person with one or two animals, but what about larger farms with 50 or 100 animals? It could be the end of many farms in Vermont and open spaces. Goodbye cows, hunting and scenic drives. Hello vast housing developments.

In case small farms haven't been vanishing fast enough already.

This goes along well with the writings of James Howard Kunstler. America, you might be interested in his books. He has a website, too.

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Only the largest poultry producers will be left because they will have the advantage of the lower cost method of registering their animals as a group vs. individual animals required for the public.

The uber-corp's win again. What a surprise.

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Why should the public care if there are no local farmers left? The greatest drawback of large producers is the low genetic diversity of their birds. Birds are kept in extremely close quarters and require heavy doses of antibiotics to remain healthy. Overuse of antibiotics results resistant strains of bacteria such as salmonella, which can infect humans and make treatment more difficult. Low genetic diversity and the stress from being in such confined quarters could make the birds more susceptible to viruses such as avian influenza, potentially wiping out a portion of the U.S. food supply.

Ah. The problem-reaction-solution paradigm once again. Brought to you by the Fedgov.

Quote
NAIS will enable the government to check the database, confiscate and slaughter all sick or healthy animals if there is an outbreak. Say goodbye to your beloved horse, your prized show chicken or the animals you raised for food for your family because you want to know what is in your food or prefer free-range animals as opposed to those kept in small cage.

God damn these people again.

Quote
What will NAIS cost? In 2004, $18.8 million was spent and another $33 million is being devoted to implement the program. Do you think $51 million could be used in better ways? After spending $80 billion to $100 billion on the war on terrorism, I suppose this is just another drop in the bucket for the U.S. taxpayers.

LOFL. Ding!

Quote
Do we need NAIS? Mad cow disease was one of the driving factors for NAIS, but according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Mad cow disease has been declining at a rate of 50 percent each year for the past three years. There were five deaths worldwide in 2005, all of which were in the United Kingdom. Education is what prompted the decline, not an information tracking system.

BRILLIANT point.

Quote
With declining death rates of mad cow, SARS, and West Nile virus, what is the newest disease that will keep NAIS implementation alive and on track? Avian influenza.

This guy sure has the Fed's number.

Quote
The next pandemic could occur if the avian influenza virus mutates in a bird such as a chicken and then infects the human population. This is assuming the virus mutates in domestic poultry vs. the wild bird population.

LOL, VERY subtle.

Quote
If avian influenza does mutate and infects humans, it could result in mortality rates as high as 500,000 in the United States. This number comes from the 1918 pandemic, the worst flu pandemic in history. Should it scare you? I don't think it should be as scary as the government wants you to believe. Let me put this number in perspective.

In 2003, 685,000 people died from heart disease, 557,000 people died from cancer, and 158,000 people died from cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke. Over 1 million people died from three common diseases.

The high death rates in the 1918 flu outbreak was due to many reasons, including a country at war and the lack of federal, state and local public health networks. Without the public health system, the disease was ignored and allowed to reach unprecedented numbers. We now have a public health system in place that DOES work. Later pandemics in 1957 and 1968 show consistent decline in the number of deaths; 70,000 and 34,000 respectively. These numbers pale in comparison to the number of people that do die every year from heart disease alone. The current average death toll due to influenza each year is 36,000. That number is actually higher than the 1968 outbreak.

Great facts.

Quote
If avian influenza mutates inside a bird, such as a chicken, and infects a human, how will the NAIS data be useful? Could NAIS find the one chicken responsible for causing the pandemic? Would the $51 million system matter at that point in finding the one chicken responsible for the outbreak? It will be the public health system with epidemiological investigations and the establishment of quarantines that will prevent the spread of an outbreak of influenza.

Nothing more entertaining that witnessing a writer dissect the motives to their ugliest core. ;D

Quote
If the government insists on having a tracking system in place, wouldn't it make more sense to microchip the human population and track their travels as they cross international lines around the world? People are more likely to make other people sick, not animals, but that is a whole other can of worms.

I love it. Right on the money.

America, great, GREAT article. And thread. Thank you so much for posting this topic!!
"Divert, distort, denigrate, disrupt or destroy any discussion of the corruption of American liberty by the organized lobby of a foreign power."  ~ WindRiverShoshoni

Offline Existentialidiot

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Re: America: Land That I Love
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2006, 06:07:04 AM »
The North American wild turkey was nearly hunted to extinction. Less than 20 years ago,
sightings were rare. The NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) Lobbied for restricted bag
limits, hunting only before noon, as well as restocking nearly every state with several different
breeds of domestic turkeys. The result was a population explosion in nearly every state. Today,
wild turkey populations are the best they've ever been and the domestic & wild turkeys have
crossbred amazingly well. Truly a wildlife conservation success story.
"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."