Turkeys are often the main course of Thanksgiving dinner. But where the bird comes from and how it was raised will affect the way they taste.
Dawnbreaker Farms owner Ben Grimes has been operating his farm in North Carolina with pasture-raised poultry, ducks, and turkeys since 2014.
“This is a very different model from the typical commercial production model used indoors and with climate control,” he explained.
This is not the environment many people think of when they imagine large-scale poultry operations.
Grimes stated that animals are used not only for their economic benefit, but also for the ecological benefits they can bring to a piece land. “More sustainable, I’d even suggest the term thrown around a bunch is regenerative.”
It takes a lot to raise turkeys.
“The U.S. turkey industry produced about 214 million turkeys in 2020, and Americans consumed about 16 pounds of turkey per person,” said Beth Breeding, spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation. “Turkish production has changed over the years. We can use a lot of technology in what we do on the farm now and that certainly helps with the impact of production.”
Regardless of the type, all types are dependent on the same inputs.
Daniel Sumner from the University of California Davis is a professor of agricultural economics. He said that while not a lot of labor goes into each turkey, it does contain a lot of corn, soybeans, and a lot of labour.
“Our market wants to eat poultry, pork and beef. It is impossible to eat pork and poultry without grain input. Grimes stated that there is no better alternative to pork and poultry on a large-scale.
He stated that grains were a necessary evil for this industry.
Grimes stated, “While their direct effect on my land can be very beneficial, it requires that grain is produced on someone else’s land and that the quality of the land is deteriorated to affect regeneration on this soil.”
Cultured meat is another option being considered.
“All the technology is there. All technical knowhow is available. Paul Mozdziak: It’s only in terms of using it to produce proteins.”?A professor from NC State University said so. He is an expert on cellular farming.
Mozdziak stated that this could look like: “You have your local farmer replaced by your local in vitro-meat producer.”