The processed food industry’s definition of “All Natural” defies common sense.

Let’s Talk Turkey

In Let's Talk Turkey Bruce Bradley shares how to find a healthier turkey PLUS recipes on how to cook it perfectly!
Factory-farmed turkeys. Yikes! What a mess. If you missed my earlier post, I interviewed a former turkey farmer who supplied a Big Ag company. I think the single best insight from this interview was when George “Buddy” Black said,

Big Ag ... lets greed overtake ... quality products. Their bottom line is all about quantity not quality, and maximizing profits.

So what can you do? If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, but want to serve up a more sustainable, healthier turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, here’s a game plan:

  1. Shop organic: Organic certification assures that the birds receive organic feed, have access to the outdoors, and are raised without antibiotics or growth-enhancers like Roxarsone and Topmax.
  2. Shop local: Smaller, local farms usually employ more sustainable practices that can be better for your turkey and the environment. Even if these farms aren’t certified organic (since getting certified can be costly), it’s probably a better choice. Over the past 5 years of my food journey, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to get to know your farmer and where you food comes from!
  3. Find a “heritage” turkey: What’s a heritage turkey? Heritage turkeys are what turkeys were before Big Ag started industrializing production with big, broad-breasted birds that are anything but natural. In fact, did you know that industrial turkeys can’t reproduce naturally, they can barely walk, and their narrow gene pool makes them very susceptible to disease? In contrast, heritage turkeys are from strong genetic stock, and they’re raised outdoors with plenty of grass and sunshine. If you’re interested, the Naragansett and Bourbon Red varieties are two great heritage turkey options. For my Thanksgiving this year we’re serving a Bourbon Red turkey from a local farm called Little Bend Heritage Farm (sorry, they’re already sold out of turkeys for 2014).
  4. Ditch the pre-basted turkey: To help you out I did some research and called the Butterball hotline to see if they have any non pre-basted options. Unfortunately what I learned wasn’t great news. First, all of their turkeys are pre-basted. For their regular (not “all-natural“) turkeys that means they’re injected with water, salt, spices, sodium phosphate, and modified food starch. As I discussed in my post about rotisserie chickens, the overuse of phosphates in our food is being linked to some serious health conditions. So I’d avoid these turkeys at all costs. Butterball’s so-called “all natural” turkeys skip the sodium phosphate and modified food starch additives, but they’re still industrialized birds, and they’ve been injected with water, salt, and spices. I realize we’re all in different circumstances and places on our real food journey, but if at all possible, I’d try to avoid these highly commercialized birds.

Finding a better bird, however, can be a bit of a challenge, especiallywith just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. But if you’re interested here’s what I’d suggest: (more…)

In Let's Talk Turkey Bruce Bradley shares how to find a healthier turkey PLUS recipes on how to cook it perfectly!

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Processed Food: Trick or Treat?

Here's a fun, yet scary post in honor of Halloween. Although it's meant with a little tongue in cheek, it is alarming what the food industry can get away with putting in their boxes, bags, and bottles without us even knowing it. Enjoy! Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and…

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Simple is Always Good, Right?

Food companies are some of the savviest trend spotters around. They literally spend Hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars tracking and following trends. In fact, in some cases, they even help create the trends. Why? It's all in hopes of selling more and more food. But when simple foods and short…

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Sun Chips: Creating the Aura of REAL Food

Imagery has always been a very powerful tool in marketing processed foods. When regulations get in the way of what manufacturers want to say, the use of iconic symbols and imagery has helped them bypass most restrictions in their quest to elevate their products and obscure reality. One of the most…

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High Fructose Corn Syrup: All Natural Really?

Are you confused about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? I'm not, but I'm convinced the manufacturers of HFCS are trying to confuse us, despite what they might say. But confusion is one of the tried and true tools of the processed foods industry. Their tactic: if consumers don't know what…

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Wesson All Natural Vegetable Oil: Warning! Slick Road Ahead

So do you use Wesson vegetable oil? I know my family did for years. In fact, I remember the days when Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson pitched the vegetable oil regularly.  Does this print ad jog your memory? Yes, Wessonality! Indeed, the 60's and 70's were the heyday for processed…

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Truvia: Honestly Sweet or Dishonestly Marketed?

There's a new No. 2 zero-calorie sweetener in town.  According to AC Nielsen, a company that tracks sales of grocery products, Truvia grew retail sales last year by almost 80% and knocked Sweet 'N Low from its artificially sweetened perch in the tabletop sugar substitute market.  That's a pretty amazing…

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Nature Valley or a Slippery Slope?

Nature Valley introduced the world's first granola bar in 1975.  Since then it's become a "natural" food brand juggernaut and has expanded into all different forms and flavors.  From promotions like the one on the box above to preserve parks to advertisements like the one below, Nature Valley has created…

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All Natural…Really?: Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meats

In this week's edition of my new series "All Natural ... Really?" I take a look at Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meats.  First introduced in 2006, this line has 11 different varieties of deli meat and claims to be "the first nationally distributed line of all natural sandwich meats with zero…

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All Natural … Really?: Breyers Ice Cream

As long as I can remember, Breyers Ice Cream has been in my freezer.  My Dad loved Breyers All Natural Butter Pecan and Neapolitan Ice Cream.  As kids, if we were going to have dessert, it was often a scoop of Breyers that was offered up.  Now some may argue…

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