This time of year we are all thinking about cooking that special turkey. But how special will it be? Listed below are the main features of the ideal, sustainably-grown, eco-friendly turkey, raised by the folks at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico HillsT and Slow Food USA.
Species: Broad-breasted bronze turkey— fast-growing hybrid breed
Pasture-raised: Always raised outdoors on fresh grass and in the woodlands
Soil: Health of the soil and the animals comes first
Color: Copper-bronze, metallic sheen, brown/black background, white bars on tail
Form: Stately, impressive
Height: Stands about 4 feet tall
Wingspan: Six feet
Tail: Fifteen to Eighteen inches
Diet: A diverse diet of fresh grass, organic grains, seeds, insects and worms
Age: Harvested at about 14-16 weeks of age
Weight Range: Hens up to 20 lbs.; Toms up to 36 lbs.
Sustainably-Sourced: No longer used by turkey industry; best to buy locally from small farms seasonal production
Cost— ouch!.. can range up to about $6.00/lb.
Organic vs. Sustainably-raised Turkeys: What’s the Difference?
Farmers who raise sustainable turkeys are not necessarily regulated by any group or agency, and have no legal guidelines to follow, although many exceed the USDA organic standards when raising their birds.
According to the sustainable food experts at Grace Communications Foundation, an organic turkey that is certified by the USDA is also a very good choice because it must be raised under strict guidelines – no antibiotics, no growth enhancers, only organic feed, and the animals must be given access to outdoors.
The key feature that both organic and sustainable turkeys have in common is that they are treated humanely and not confined indoors as they would be on a factory farm.