What About Turkey?
Northfield Patch presents answers to commonly asked turkey questions.
I've found myself wondering more about what exactly I'll be eating on Thursday, like what exactly is a turkey? If you've been wondering too, have no fear. Northfield Patch did some digging and found the answers to your burning turkey questions.
Why is a turkey called a turkey?
The name turkey was originally applied to an African bird now known as the guinea fowl, which was believed to have originated in Turkey, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When the Europeans saw the American turkey, they thought it was the same bird. Thus, why the bird is called a turkey.
How are turkeys raised?
Turkeys are mainly fed corn and soybean meal, along with vitamin and mineral supplements to help them grow healthy.
If I buy a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, are there hormones in it?
No, the USDA doesn't allow hormones to be used in any turkeys. However, antibiotics are allowed to prevent disease or increase food efficiency, according to the USDA. But, before they can be slaughtered, turkeys go through a withdrawal period to flush out any drug residues.
What about additives?
Additives are not allowed for fresh or minimally processed turkeys. However, processed turkeys such as those that are injected with basting solutions, canned, ground, smoked, cured or turned into deli meat, additives can be added, the USDA says. The additives that are allowed are MSG, salt or sodium erythorbate. In this case, the label must contain the ingredient information in descending order from the largest to smallest amount.
What's the difference between a barn-raised turkey and a free-range turkey?
Barn-raised turkeys are not exposed to the outside elements and are kept indoors. Free-range, or free roaming, turkeys are allowed access to the outside.
What's the difference between fresh and frozen turkeys?
There is no quality difference between a fresh or frozen turkey, according to the National Turkey Federation. Frozen turkeys are flash frozen immediately after packaging and can be kept longer than fresh turkeys, which are chilled rather than frozen. The real differences exist in price and convenience, according to the federation's website. Frozen turkeys don't require special handling and are generally less expensive than fresh turkeys; however, fresh turkeys are more convenient because no thawing is required.