How Do You Raise a Tasty Turkey?

Food for Thought

This turkey, I kid you not, is extraordinary, not because I’m good at cooking, but because the turkey itself is next level. We got it from @endsmeatnyc_ and this is our second year. (And, this is not a sponsored post.)

I think this is what they call “heritage” turkey. It was expensive ($70 for a 12 pound), but it’s worth the price because the qualitative difference is objective. Given a blind test, I think everyone would be able to tell the difference.

Now, how do you raise a turkey, or any animal, that tastes better? With cooking, you taste the food and adjust as you cook. You can’t taste a live turkey at one month and modify the way you are raising it.

You might assume that raising them in a healthier environment would naturally lead to superior flavor, but is that true? It seems to go against the theory of natural selection. Growing up healthier would increase their chance of getting killed. The nastier tasting ones would have a better chance of survival.

Imagine you are a bear. Do you think those healthy, skinny vegetarians would taste better? I would imagine that they would taste pretty dry and bland. Couch potatoes who frequently get full-body massage would taste better, I think. Personally, I like farmed salmons better because they are fattier. Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks, not a healthy diet.

I wonder if turkey farmers conduct systematic experiments, like raise some indoor and some outdoor, feed different things, give some massage, play Mozart vs. Beethoven, etc. I read that they live for 3 to 6 months before they are slaughtered, so, after many years, they could determine which environment leads to better taste.

One thing that seems intuitive is that no animals would taste better towards the end of their lives, which supports the argument that the healthier, the tastier. It would work out better for them if they tasted better in their retirement age. They could live a full life before getting eaten. But natural selection would work better if the genes ill-suited for the current environment died off younger. I guess Nature doesn’t care about individual lives; it just wants life in general to persist. But why?