Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
Thanksgiving And The Story Of The "Oilball."
"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!" --from a "non-dairy-spread" TV ad I saw in my younger days.
Here's something to think about while you are enjoying your dinner today: The turkey you ingested as part of your feast is NOT related to the "wilier-than-Wil-E-Coyote" forest bird that our ancestors enjoyed (but not on "The First Thanksgiving," mind you. The main course on THAT November day was venison!), but a carefully-bred, fed, "med-ed," and prepped-for-cooking Frankenbird!
In it's natural habitat, a wild turkey is extremely hard to bring down. Once the bird is taken, however, it takes quite a bit of plucking, gut removal, and cooking to reveal the "true bird's" worth. The meat is darker, richer-tasting, and tastes better for the effort of harvesting it yourself!
The frozen turkeys you find in your grocer's meat department, however...now they are a most different bird altogether. First off the bat, these turkeys are white-plumed (and called "White Turkeys"), and come from one of three privately-owned breeding strains.
Now guess who owns those Strains:
01) Merck & Company (the N.J.-based pharmaceutical empire)
02) British Petrolium (takes "Beyond Petrolium" to a whole new meaning, eh?)
03) Booker PLC (a major UK-based food conglomerate)
But, my dears--that's not the half of it!
Four decades ago, a survey was conducted to see which part of the turkey consumers preferred most. The answer was--the breast! When the marketing community heard about this, they started figuring that if the "birds of the day" can be genetically engineered to produce much more pectoral flesh, then sales will skyrocket. The consumers will get what they want, the marketers will get rich, and the profits of the producers who played ball would grow exponentially!
Who is the loser here? THE TURKEY!
To produce a "Butterball (one of Con-Agra's contributions to Frakenfood )," they took the basic White turkey (which is too stupid to survive in the wild, btw), did a bit of "DNA-rape (non-benevolent genentic engineering)," and produced turkeys that were VERY top-heavy, if you get my drift!
"HOW TOP HEAVY ARE THOSE BIRDS?"
Well, in order to sate the hunger for turkey breast, the turkeys-in-question:
01) cannot walk;
02) cannot reproduce naturally;
03) live in climate-controlled sardine-cans-cum-turkey-houses;
04) are fed a "diet" that is poor in iron (which makes for an ultra-white breast meat), and heavy in antibiotics ( to keep the birds-in-question from spreading any nasties that could wipe out the White Turkey population nationwide, since they are all of one genetic strain).
After the turkeys are killed, they are injected with a "witch's brew" of vegetable oil, water, salt, emulsifiers, sodium phosphate, artificial flavor, and annoto coloring. Then they are cleaned, wrapped, frozen, and sent to a market near you.
So, does a Butterball taste better than either a "Brand X" frozen bird, or even one taken in the field?
The answer is a unqualified "HELL NO!"
A taste-test was done featuring a "Brand-X" bird, a turkey taken in the wild, and of course--The Butterball. Strange to say, in this "blind-test," the "wild-harvested" turkey was preferred over all...and the "Butterball" was given the most derisive comments by the panel. One person compared it to "a mixture of chemicals masquerading as turkey!"
When I moved out, and started cooking for myself, I avoided (and still do) Butterball Turkeys. In fact, my last turkey (which I grilled on my Electrobachi after "partsing-out" the bird. I grilled the thighs after a 24-hour marinade in a citrus-white wine mixture) from last year was merely a Jenny-O (all that I could afford).
I just did not see the need to purchase something more expensive...and now I'm glad to know "The Rest Of The Story" that makes my decision the right one for me.
This year--Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce. Oh, well, better than going without food. Next year--Ham!
Happy Turkey Day, folks! --RKJ