EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 21, 2012

Not your grandfather's Thanksgiving Day bird

Modern-day turkeys pack more breast meat but may be less tasty than old-time varieties

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“In contrast to heritage turkeys, the modern industrial turkey — the Broad-Breasted White (the Frankenturkey, I sometimes call it) — has been bred only for industrial efficiency, and to provide more white meat. ... Additionally, small family farmers can raise heritage birds profitably, which is good for both farmers and the community.”

While heritage breeds are considered endangered, eating one actually leads to the protection of those breeds. The more consumers request heritage birds, the more farmers will grow them. The more farmers grow them, the less endangered they are.

Most New England farmers grow Narragansetts, Standard Bronze or Bourbon Reds and charge about $5 per pound, compared to the $3.99 a pound you’d pay at a specialty market for “organic” or “free-running” Broad-Breasted Whites.

Other heritage varieties include the Royal Palm, Jersey Buff, Slate and Black Spanish.

As more local farmers begin to grow heritage birds, we can expect the variety of heritage turkeys available for New England Thanksgiving tables to increase.

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