Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ah, Bird Meat

I am not opposed to eating bird flesh, as Jeannette is, ever since she discovered an odd part of meat in a turkey sandwich which she called a "turkey aorta." So, this Thanksgiving, I will be consuming bird meat and so will many Americans. But what kind of bird meat will be consumed?

The choices are many now, with different definitions from the FDA then you may be expecting when you buy the "Big Bird."

Free Range

This indicates that the turkey isn't kept inside all the time, and allowed to roam outside if it would like. While I have the image of turkeys running around picking berries off the ground in a forest somewhere, what is usually the case is that the turkey isn't raised much different then other turkeys. True, the turkey has access to the outdoors, but that could consist of a small fenced in pen tacked onto the end of the larger barn where the majority of turkeys are. It's a tiny investment for a huge marketing spin, plus you can get more money marketing turkey as "free range."


The FDA has not approved the use of hormones in poultry production. Even the Butterball is hormone free.

Cage Free

There's no real legal meaning, but is usually similar to Free Range, except the animals have no access to the outdoors. The turkeys are still packed breast to breast in the barn.


Certified Organic meat consists of a lot of paper work for the producer. This certification means that the turkey ate only organic feed, and was not unnecessarily treated with antibiotics, among other regulations.


This means that the turkey hasn't been frozen, or at least hasn't had its internal temperature lowered below 26 degrees, which I guess is frozen, but not that much?


This definition is not regulated as heavily as the Organic label, and generally means that the meat contains no artificial colors and has been minimally produced.

So, what's the answer? We've become very good at producing lots and lots of meat with very few resources, and very small plots of land. I would prefer a good system, like Organic Certification, despite the heavy reliance on documentation, or the ethical treatment of animals meant for human consumption which had a strong focus on living conditions. This would mean less production, or more land required for production, and higher prices, but meat is already heavily subsidized by the government as it is. Bah, whatever happened to honesty, and just doing things right without so much oversight?

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