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Wow, Terrie (previous MAKE webmaster) has a great write up on Hertitage turkeys! Warning the page has dead turkey, the source of turkey meat…

I like to support the efforts of farmers who are raising heritage breeds of animals. Heritage breeds of livestock are often in danger of becoming extinct, because industrial livestock breeds create a monoculture of animals. Industrial breeds were developed for size consistency or volume of production, but unfortunately many of these breeds are not as hardy and require antibiotics or other measures to sustain them long enough to reach the age of slaughter. Heritage breeds are often sturdier, healthier, and are well-suited for particular niches of climate or other factors which make them great for non-industrial farms. The increased biodiversity that results in having more heritage breeds leads to a great resiliency in the food system.

It’s shocking how different a heritage turkey can be from a commercial breed. Commercially bred turkeys can’t even mate themselves because their chests are so oversized to produce more breast meat…they all have to be artificially inseminated! (Yup, remember that episode of Dirty Jobs?!) Check out this Definition of a Heritage Turkey for more details.