If you've never ordered a heritage-breed turkey for Thanksgiving, you've never truly enjoyed Thanksgiving. "This is what turkey's supposed to taste like," explains food writer Marian Burros, retired from The New York Times. "When you taste it, you think, 'Oh, this is why people like turkey. It's not just something to put gravy on.'"
These heritage breeds aren't just a foodie's novelty. They're rare birds that once dominated small-scale American agriculture but have since been replaced by a few specialized breeds that have been selected by factory farmers for maximum meat output and their ability to survive cramped, dirty, inhumane conditions. But some agricultural researchers and farmers are working to change all that. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is helping to save 12 breeds of turkeys that are nearing extinction in an effort to preserve the genetic diversity that once allowed small American farmers to raise animals unique to their environments and their customers' needs.
Yes, they are more expensive, ranging from $4 to more than $10 a pound. But if you have the means, investing in a heritage breed turkey this Thanksgiving could save an American farm! (And clearly, you'll also be supporting your taste buds, too!)
Photo credit: Ayrshire Farm