By Michael Crupain, MD, MPH
(Note: This Article was originally published in the American College of Preventive Medicine Resident Physician Newsletter)
There is nothing that better symbolizes a Thanksgiving meal than turkey. According to the Turkey industry, between 80% and 95% of Americans consume this bird on the fourth Thursday of November each year. While we can’t be sure if Turkey was really eaten at the first Thanksgiving, it has certainly been an important part of the tradition and American culture for at least 200 years.
The modern Turkey however, is a far different bird than the Turkey Benjamin Franklin told his daughter would be a better symbol for America than the Bald Eagle. Today the majority of Turkey’s represent a single breed, the Broad Breasted White, which has been bred to have a small frame and large breasts. These birds grow very fast, reaching slaughter weight after only 14-18 weeks and have a taste that can best be described by the word bland.