Tag: heritage turkey


The 2018 Poults are Hatching!

Farmer Frank Reese is busy at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch hatching the first poults of the 2018 heritage turkey season. See below for scenes from the farm!

Let the Turkey do the Talking, and Other Lessons from the Heritage Holiday Table

The story of how your holiday dinner got from the farm to your plate is one of the best you will ever tell. And the truly fantastic part is, it’s all true.

When it comes to Heritage breeds — of pork, of lamb, of beef, you name it — each meal is only the last chapter in a culinary epic. Our Red Wattle pork, for example, comes from pigs that once were staples of New Orleans stockyards and were once nearly extinct as industrial farming took over and cyncically favored only select breeds of genetically engineered pigs. Now Red Wattles are a favorite of knowledgeable pork lovers, saved by aware diners and discerning chefs.

Our Tunis lamb can be traced back to Bible times and were once shepherded by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The ancestors of the cows that produce our Wagyu steak were originally flown to Texas on the same kind of luxury plane that is favored by touring rock bands.

Not only that, when you are eating Heritage meats you are celebrating biodiversity, supporting family-owned independent farms, and continuing a legacy of traditional American farming that stays far away from antibiotics and hormones and commercial farming practice.

And you can boast that our meat is the very same stuff being prepared at Gramercy Tavern, Del Posto, and some of the best restaurants in NY, LA, and San Francisco, championed by visionary food stars like Alice Waters and Mario Batali!

Jive Talkin’ Turkey , Part II

We were having so much fun talking about “turkeys of the 1970s” – a time when real Heritage turkeys were having a tough time fighting against the influx of industrial farming and a trend towards growing everything cheaper and faster, no matter what the ultimate cost — that we thought we’d go back and look at some of favorite TELEVISION TURKEYS of the 1970s!

Our favorites are failed copycat shows, and no one had more losing imitations than the original SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN! Two of our favorites are the shameless copy GEMINI MAN, and the completely unfunny HOLMES AND YOYO about a robot cop named YOYO!!! Don’t remember them?? They were true TURKEYS!!!

Speaking of copycats, who remembers DOG AND CAT, a completely failed cop show starring KIM BASSINGER??

Television shows come and go, but Heritage Turkeys have stood the test of time, simply because they cannot be beat.

The industry does a great job of confusing the market by co-opting buzz words. The word “natural” can mean almost anything. And all of these turkeys have salt water added — they call it flavor enhancers. These are what we call “jive turkeys.” They are simply not the real thing. If you want the true tast of turkey, Heritage is the way to go.

Heritage Turkeys are the genuine item. Not copycats, not cheap imitations, not bionic robots or clones or anything produced in a laboratory like so many commercially farmed birds.

Heritage Turkeys are raised using traditional farming methods from birds with tremendous genetics. There are never any chemicals, and the birds get to roam and roots naturally. All of this goes to make Heritage Turkeys are the very best birds in the world, the most flavorful and juiciest birds on the market today.

Don’t trust us: Alice Waters says “These birds are without a doubt the tastiest birds you can possibly serve,” and Mario Batali, proudly claims “I’ve served these birds for my Thanksgiving every year for the past 12 years and always will.”

Just try calling Alice or Mario “jive” and see what happens!

Jive Turkeys, Part 1

Oh, those wacky 1970s, when it seemed that just everyone was wearing white bellbottoms and dancing to the Hustle. That may have worked if you were eighteen-years-old and could get around on platform shoes, but when it was your uncle Murray trying to act hip, pretending to be younger than he was (by a lot!), we had an expression for him: Jive turkey!

Being a turkey in the 1970s was NOT such a good thing, on the disco floor, or even on the thanksgiving table — By the early 1970s, factory farming had taken over the American poultry farming system, and turkeys were most commonly bred for traits that would deform them and destroy their flavor, namely how fast and how big they could grow. Turkeys were shot up with chemicals to keep them alive, and were so top heavy they could not walk had become the norm. In fact, they were growing so fast that turkeys became so inexpensive as to nearly bankrupt the industry.

Sadly, these kinds of “jive turkeys” – birds that really had no business representing American agriculture, became the norm, and it is still true. Like your desperate uncle trying to do the Hustle at the disco, commercially farmed turkeys cant be trusted.

The people behind this type of farming, growing everything as fast and as cheap as possible, think they can outsmart mother nature, but the there is always a price to pay: sick, inhumanely raised turkeys, and family farms that cant compete with this sort of mass production.

Thankfully, Heritage Turkeys are no jive.

(And after dinner, why not screen the classic comedy, JIVE TURKEY starring PAUL HARRIS?)

But when it comes to dinner, stick to Heritage. You don’t want anyone to call your turkey “jive” at the Thanksgiving table!

FRANK REESE, AMERICA HERO

A turkey is no better than the farmer behind it.

Long-time Heritage customers know that we got our start selling Frank’s turkeys, raised traditionally and responsibly on his Good Shepherd Farm and our relationship with him remains the cornerstone of our business.

Frank is a true hero of the Heritage food movement — he is the first and only sustainable commercial farmer to receive certification by the American Poultry Association for his birds as purebreds, standards that were set in 1873 — and he has been featured in publications ranging from the New York Times to National Geographic. His story is the Rosetta Stone of sustainable farming, and the reason why when it comes to meat, the word “heritage” is synonymous with “heirloom.” Good Shepherd turkeys are the oldest line of turkey in America, 100 percent antibiotic free, and pasture raised on the Kansas prairie.

“The biggest thing this year,” Frank says, “is that we’ve added two new farms to raise turkeys this year to meet a bigger demand. We never seem to have enough — hopefully this year if everything goes well to have twice as many turkeys as last year. But it’s still a drop in the bucket — our four farmers are going to raise what one big commercial plant will do in a week.

“But here are more and more people who want our birds — Some people who have had Heritage birds have tried to find something else, but they always come back.”

And it’s true, once you have experience the true taste of a Heritage bird, one that hasn’t been juiced with salt water and flavor enhancers, one that has been raised naturally and allowed to roost and roam and mate naturally, you will never look at another supermarket bird the same way.

Heritage turkeys are available now for Thanksgiving delivery. Isn’t it time you became part of this great tradition?

Heritage Turkey Premiere: An Interview with Frank Reese

Heritage Turkey Premiere: An Interview with Frank Reese

 

“I have baby turkeys everywhere!”

It’s that time of year, summer in Kansas, and the heat is rising. “Turkeys have to be hatched before June to be ready for Thanksgiving,” says Frank Reese. “But these birds do real well in the heat – they aren’t morbidly obese, so they can handle it. And unlike on an industrial farm, they have trees and shade and get plenty of fresh water… commercial turkeys suffer a lot in the heat. Those birds have been genetically selected to grow as fast as possible.”

“A turkey is no better than the farmer behind it. And the genetics, of course,” says Frank, whose turkeys are one of the only flocks in America to receive certification by the American Poultry Association as purebreds, standards that were set in 1873.

“The biggest thing this year is that we’ve added three new farms to meet a bigger demand. We never seem to have enough — hopefully this year if everything goes well we’ll have twice as many turkeys as last year. But it’s still a drop in the bucket — our four farmers together are going to raise what one big commercial plant will do in a week

“What people don’t realize that when you send turkeys to get processed, they don’t all come out as birds in a bag — some birds are bruised and you can’t sell it as a whole Grade A bird. Truthfully we lose very few turkeys to cosmetic things — but to the big guys, they don’t care as much about their animals because they don’t make money off of whole turkeys, they make money off of deli meat. For an industrial producer, that’s where the money is. For them a whole turkey at Thanksgiving is like a giveaway. But when that turkey you usually sell for 99 cents a pound is instead smoked and put in an eight ounce package that now costs five dollars, you’re now selling that same bird for ten bucks a pound. And that’s why they only sell hens as whole birds — their toms they get up to 40 lbs in 14 weeks and sell as deli meat.”

An industrial turkey farm can get a 20 lb. hen in 12 weeks, or a 40 lb tom in 14 weeks. My hens, in 12 weeks only weigh 7 or 8 lbs – and we won’t process them till 24 or 28 weeks when their live weight is 15-16 lbs. My toms —  in 24 weeks weigh 24 lbs— a commercial factory turkey in that much time would weigh 44 lbs, and they don’t quit growing. They’ll get to 50 – 60 lbs and weigh too much for their legs to carry. I don’t lose any turkeys because of obesity because I haven’t selected them to be so fat that they cant live.

“The industry has made their money off of uniformity… there can be no variance, no difference. My turkeys don’t all come out the same – it is a totally different system.

“All the industrial turkeys have salt water added – they call it flavor enhancers – but sometimes its more than just salt. They figure most people don’t know how to cook a bird properly, and they figure it will keep the turkey from turning into dry leather. The truth is that because they raise these birds so fast and kill them so young, they don’t develop a layer of fat. My birds are harvested at a normal age and maturity, and having that maturity brings taste, flavor, texture. The industry has removed that — what people are used to now, the taste of turkey they think they love, is mostly just added salt.

Long-time Heritage customers know that we got our start selling Frank’s turkeys, and our relationship with him truly is the cornerstone of our business. Frank can count among his fans Alice Waters, who says “These birds are without a doubt the tastiest birds you can possibly serve,” and Mario Batali, who proudly claims “I’ve served these birds for my Thanksgiving every year for the past 12 years and always will.”

Frank is a true hero of the heritage food movement — he is the first and one of the only sustainable commercial farmers to receive certification by the American Poultry Association, and the USDA, for his birds as purebreds— and he has been featured in publications ranging from The New York Times to National Geographic. His story is the Rosetta Stone of sustainable farming, and the reason why when it comes to meat, the word “heritage” is synonymous with “heirloom.” Good Shepherd turkeys are the oldest line of turkey in America, 100 percent antibiotic free, and pasture raised on the Kansas prairie.

Frank Reese

The Frank Reese Story

At Heritage Foods USA, Frank Reese is a super hero. His farming practices should be a model for anyone who cares about taste and the survival and success of true heritage breeds. We started our business because we believed in Frank, and his heritage turkeys have really sustained us. It is nearly impossible to compete with his birds…

Freyja & Susan's Heritage Turkey

2015 Heritage Turkey Photo Contest

A huge “Thank You” to all participants for sharing your holiday feast with us!

We are thrilled to announce the winner of our 2015 Heritage Turkey Photo Contest!

Each family submitted photos of their Heritage Thanksgiving Turkey for a chance to win an 18-20lb Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving 2016. Our inbox was flooded with your submissions, here are the best of the best:

2015 Turkey Photo Contest Winner:

Freyja & Susan

South Berwick, ME

Freyja & Susan's Heritage Turkey
Freyja & Susan’s Heritage Turkey

 

Honorable Mentions:

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To all of you who support the Heritage Turkey Project, you have truly made this project a success. Thank You!

It would not be possible without your support and enthusiasm over the years.

Heritage Turkey Photos

We just announced the winners of our 2013 Heritage Turkey Photo contest!

Congrats to Phillipe in Illinois, Benjamin in Pennsylvania, and Jennifer in New York!

Click to see the winning photos and hear from the winners!

2013 Thanksgiving Heritage Turkey Contest
2013 Thanksgiving Heritage Turkey Contest

We also got an email from a customer last year sharing an image of her 2012 bird that we had to share for its pure artistry.

Behold Judith Mazza’s incredible bird!

Heritage_Turkey2 Heritage_Turkey1

Here’s how she did it:

“I stretched the skin of the neck over the roaster to make the equivalent of turkey cracklings (like Peking Duck Skin).  It was totally delicious.   I roasted it in my Kamado Grill on a vertical turkey roaster.  I’ve been developing some expertise in doing food photography and I particularly enjoy the turkey photo.”

Thank you to everyone who sent photos!

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