Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

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With Thanksgiving coming up soon, how can we make the best choices based on our food?

Conventional turkeys are almost always raised to be big, kept in crowded conditions, treated with antibiotics and growth-boosting hormones, and probably injected with salt solutions and preservatives. These antibiotics and added hormones can be very dangerous to our health in the long run. Additionally, the way some food labels are marketed can be very deceiving when making the right choices.

Meat can be harmful to our health because of the way the animals are kept. They are often raised in pesticide filled areas. These chemicals get into our food and can disrupt our hormone system. Some pesticides such as atrazine can even make male frogs develop female characteristics. So, imagine what they can do to our bodies. They don’t only affect the animals, but also hurt us because when we consume meat they get into our bodies. This is why it is important to buy meat from organic farms. Organic meats come from animals that don't eat GMO feed, antibiotics, or growth hormones.

Another cause for concern is the high amount of hormones the turkeys are given so they will grow larger. Once given to the turkeys, these hormones can get into our bloodstreams when we eat them. The added hormones in combination with other exposures may cause harm, such as early puberty and cancer because your body is given incorrect signals. This can also be avoided by eating organic or by eating Heritage or Heirloom turkeys which are traditionally smaller because they don’t have added growth hormones.

Thirdly, labels such as Sustainable, Natural, and Free Range can be very deciving. Sustainable doesn't have a standard definition so there is no way to know what this actually means in terms of the farmer. Natural is slightly better because it means the turkeys can't be injected with preservatives however added flavors can still be used. Free range is another deceiving label because these turkeys actually get more indoor time instead of outdoor time. To confirm animals get outdoor time, which usually means less antibiotics in turn, look for animal welfare certifications.

In conclusions, knowing where your turkey is from can help change your health for the better. Turkeys, and other animals, are often raised in subpar conditions. When looking for better turkeys, consider buying organic or heritage turkeys and on top of that check for the conditions in which they were raised.

By: Sara Frawley