Let's Talk Turkey
In a letter to his daughter, Ben Franklin suggested that the turkey would be an ideal official symbol of the United States. This truly noble bird does play an important part in U.S. diets and our family traditions. According to the National Turkey Federation, turkey production in the United States has increased nearly 110 percent since 1970.
Value-added turkey products have continued to expand offering consumers a wide variety of cuts and ready-to-eat turkey parts, cuts and products. Valued at $18 billion, turkey processors’ production continues to meet new demands by consumers for a nutritious, lean protein source. Turkey is the #4 preferred protein source of Americans behind chicken, beef and pork. It’s an industry that requires ~25,000 employees to bring it to your table.
Roughly 88 percent of Americans will consume turkey on Thanksgiving, representing a whopping 46 million turkeys. 22 million will be consumed at Christmas and 19 million at Easter. The average bird prepared for the table is 15 pounds – enough to feed a typical family gathering – unless you are crazy about leftovers as I am! In which case, the five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey are in a sandwich, stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger.
Some cool facts about this wonderful bird include that turkeys have been around nearly 10 million years according to people who know! They can see movement up to 100 yards away. In the wild, their gobbles can be heard up to a mile away and they can fly short distances up to 55 mph and can run 20 mph. Domestic turkeys, however, do not fly.
Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, and turkey has more protein than chicken or beef. White meat has fewer calories than dark meat, but darn, the dark meat tastes so good!
Our founding families may not have had turkey for Thanksgiving, but more likely venison, a very available meat source at the time. Early records from William Bradford’s journals note gathering of wild fowl for a celebration but not necessarily turkeys. But another important U.S. figure, Alexander Hamilton (queue the musical – or get out a $20) noted that at the autumn harvest, "No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day."
The day was not officially a holiday until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as a national holiday in 1863.
So, while at the first Thanksgivings, there may have been no pumpkin pie nor cranberries, we have fortunately evolved to have a celebration of family favorites, and a season of sharing stories, making memories, and being grateful for the food on our tables and the farm families that help make it so.
Do you have more questions that are not covered in this article? If you need help designing and planning, please contact Summit Livestock Facilities at 800.213.0567 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our customer engagement team will help you determine the next steps of your project.