This weekend I attended a poultry show and the usual question was asked if these turkeys are rare how can eating them be justified. Well, turkeys were originally domesticated and reared for the table, and over the years various varieties with unique virtues have been develop within the domestic stock. However, in recent years commercial turkeys have essentially replaced the original domestic stock, and we are now at a point where our truly ‘heritage’ varieties and its gene pool are at risk of being lost forever.
There is a desperate need to keep this gene pool alive, otherwise, this valuable resource will be lost for future generations. Once the unique genetic resource is gone, then it is gone ‘forever’.
By way of example if the commercial turkey stock were depleted, and if we don’t do all we can to save the traditional turkey gene pool, then there would be nothing left to rebuild and move forward.
Most turkey keepers however passionate about keeping the truly traditional turkeys alive and the gene pool going offset their costs by releasing birds for the table. Essentially turkeys that are best of type are kept for breeding whilst those that aren’t generally end up on the table. Although there have always been a few that make long term pets.
To me the ‘table market’ seems a logical and realistic solution to keeping the gene pool alive, and without it the invaluable and traditional turkey gene pool could be lost forever.
So, with regard to traditional turkeys the contradiction between ‘preservation’ and ‘table’, however incompatible it may appear, is necessary if the traditional varieties and their gene pool are to be retained for future generations.