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Myth-Busting: Turkey Style

For immediate release

Contact: Lara Durben, Phone: 763/682-2171 | Mobile: 612/554-0920, ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com

 

MYTH:

Turkeys are pumped full of added hormones and steroids so they fatten up quickly.

TRUTH:

All turkeys in the U.S. are raised without any added hormones and steroids. There are no hormones or steroids approved by the FDA for use in poultry and haven’t been since the 1950s. Turkeys are fed a healthy diet of whole and pelleted grains as well as vitamins. Feed for turkeys comes from Minnesota’s soybean and corn farmers. Turkeys always have access to fresh, clean water.

 

MYTH:

Turkeys are cooped up in barns, so close together they can’t move.

TRUTH:

Turkeys are raised in barns that provide a safe, comfortable home with plenty of space to move around.  Barns – which are specially designed just for turkeys – keep predators away, help farmers control germs and diseases from getting to the birds, and allow maximum comfort – turkeys stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and dry during inclement weather. Turkeys are not raised in cages.

 

MYTH:

The use of antibiotics in turkey production doesn’t have any oversight and turkey farmers use a litany of antibiotics regardless of whether their birds are sick or healthy.

TRUTH:

Antibiotic use in turkeys is overseen by veterinarians and follows strict guidelines.  Approved antibiotics in poultry production can be used to 1) individually treat sick birds, 2) control disease within an entire flock that has sick birds in it; and 3) to prevent disease completely. Depending on the situation, a farmer may choose to treat only the birds that are sick with antibiotics, but it is also true that a farmer may want to administer antibiotics to an entire flock after some sick birds in the flock are diagnosed. As is the case with humans and germs, sick birds can spread illness to healthy birds pretty quickly so sometimes the best way to ensure a flock stays as healthy as possible is to treat all the birds with medication.

Some poultry companies have announced they are ending the use of antibiotics for the overall prevention of disease; however, they will continue to use antibiotics as needed to treat sick birds and control disease within an entire flock because it’s the right thing to do for the birds. Turkey farmers feel it is the humane thing to do to treat sick birds with antibiotics, if that is the treatment prescribed by a veterinarian. We don’t know any farmer who wants to see his or her birds suffer from illness.

If antibiotics are prescribed to a flock, there is a mandatory withdrawal period and random testing by USDA before the birds can be processed, insuring that there are absolutely no antibiotic residues in the birds when they go to market.

 

MYTH:

There are very few family farmers who raise turkeys.

TRUTH:

Most turkey farms are operated by family farmers. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any U.S. state. and many of our 450 turkey farmers are 3rd, 4th and even 5th generation farm families.

 

MYTH:

Eating turkey makes you very tired.

TRUTH:

No, it’s not the turkey’s fault! Recent studies have shown that it is more likely a large, carbohydrate-rich meal – like the kind we eat at Thanksgiving – rather than just the turkey that causes sleepiness.  A carb-heavy meal like this releases tryptophans in the brain, causing drowsiness.

 

MYTH:

I have to get up at 4 a.m. to roast the turkey for Thanksgiving.

TRUTH:

Not these days! A whole turkey (unstuffed) that’s 8-12 pounds will take 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours to roast (a little longer if you stuff the turkey), so if you are planning a noon feast, you do not have to get up at 4 a.m.  And remember – the best measurement of doneness is with a meat thermometer that reaches 180 degrees in the thigh and 165 degrees in the breast.

 

MYTH:

Turkey is only eaten during the holidays in November and December.

TRUTH:

More and more Americans realize turkey isn’t just for the holidays. Although 50 percent of all turkey consumed in 1970 was during the holidays, today that number is around 31 percent. Incidentally, 95% of Americans will eat turkey at Thanksgiving this year.

 

MYTH:

The white meat of a turkey is better for you than dark meat.

TRUTH:

No matter what your preference, turkey is a lean source of protein with plenty of nutrient advantages. While a 3 oz. portion of turkey breast has 20 fewer calories and 3 more grams of protein than a similar-sized portion of turkey thigh, the dark meat actually has a higher mineral count and more iron, zinc and selenium.

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Sources: Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council, National Turkey Federation, JennieO.com, Butterball.com, Food Network.com.

Gobbling for a Presidential Pardon

Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | via minnesotaturkey.com/presidentialturkey

We’d like to introduce you to a very special flock of turkeys who are currently going through some specific training in far northwestern Minnesota!

These birds – all males, or “tom” turkeys – are among the few, the proud who may be invited to travel to Washington DC in November for a pardon from President Obama. The birds are being raised by John and Joni Burkel and their five kids near Badger, Minnesota – which is just a few miles from the Canadian border!

Check out the turkeys’ special  home – it’s a bit like a mini version of the White House, don’t you think?

Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | via minnesotaturkey.com/presidentialturkey

In the coming weeks, you will be able to read more about the Burkel family and hear from some of their kids, who are taking a very hands-on role in raising these turkeys. You see, in order to ensure the eventual National Thanksgiving Turkey and his alternate can behave themselves at the White House, all these birds must be acclimated to lots of noise, lights, music and human contact – definitely a fun job for the kids!

The history behind this Thanksgiving tradition in Washington DC dates back to President Truman in 1947, when an official ceremony was held to present the president with a turkey. Each year since then the National Turkey Federation has been invited to participate in this ceremony by raising and presenting the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the president. Early Presidential turkeys were destined for a dinner plate until President George H.W. Bush began the official tradition of pardoning the turkey in 1989.

With any luck, the Minnesota Turkey this year will serve his duty at the White House and then be brought (along with his lucky alternate!) to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, to enjoy the holiday season. After that, the birds will move to Morven Park in Leesburg, VA to live out the rest of their lives.

Here are some addititional links to check out about the National Thanksgiving Turkey project:

History

Fun Stuff for Kids

Info for Parents  (food safety, recipes, etc.)

Minnesota Turkey’s Facebook Page (like us for fun updates!)

Follow us on Twitter – @MinnesotaTurkey

Be sure to check back often for updates and more photos and videos from the Burkel family as they continue raise and groom this very special Presidential turkey flock. In the  meantime, enjoy this video introduction to the flock!