Kosher Turkey = Humanely Treated Turkey?
November 22, 2005 9:07 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking into trying to find me a decently treated turkey this Turkey day, and Empire Kosher Turkeys have been recommended. Is Kosher Turkey (Empire, for example) any more humane than other relatively big business Turkey? How does one find out how a given meat company treats its animals?

Empire's website claims free-range poultry here:

However, it appears that the word 'free-range' is basically meaningless, and I imagine that since they use no other words to describe their turkey, then this company is probably not what I'm looking for in terms of treatment.

What should I look for, in any company, to figure out this sort of stuff?
posted by sdis to Food & Drink (5 answers total)
Similar recent question asked. It's more specific than yours, but might be a good start.
posted by occhiblu at 9:13 AM on November 22, 2005

I don't know about the validity of Empire's free-range claims, but kosher animals are mandated to live in humane conditions and to be killed in a manner that has as little pain, suffering, and fear as possible. Usually that means slitting their throat quickly (no electrocution or metal bolts shot through the head, as is common in other slaughterhouses). Sick or deformed animals are not allowed to be sold or eaten.

A word of advice, though: do not brine (soak in salt water before cooking) your Kosher turkey or chicken! They're plenty salty already and you risk making the bird unpalatable. I suppose you could soak them for 30 minutes in a spice/sugar mix, if that's your thing, but I would hold off on the salt.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:25 AM on November 22, 2005

Find a local farmer. He'll tell you and show you how his turkeys are raised.

If anyone is near Knobnoster, MO my father can hook you up with a humanly raised bird.
posted by nadawi at 9:32 AM on November 22, 2005

And for what it's worth, America's Test Kitchen, a cooking show on PBS that I adore, did blind taste tests a couple years ago and said that Empire Kosher chicken and Bell & Evan's Free Range chicken were by far the tastiest of the chickens--in general, they found a marked increase in taste quality between the free-range chickens and the mass-market chicken prisons farms like Tyson.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:45 AM on November 22, 2005

I can't answer your direction question about how to find out. But a kosher piece of meat is definitely taken care of. There has to be a rabbi who watches over the animals at each stage of their life. His paycheck is not paid by the farm, but instead by the kashrut authority, so it's not like he'll be inclined to look the other way or something. Kosher is not *by definition* better, but I believe that generally the animals are better taken care of, more healthy, more humanely slaughtered (for sure).

Why do you think kosher liver tastes so good? Because the bad (weird) liver taste is the taste of adrenaline (adrenaline is taken out of the blood by the liver), and since kosher beef are not frightened / bolted in the head just before they die, they don't have adrenaline in their blood, it tastes better. This is what my biology teacher mom says anyway.
posted by zpousman at 11:24 AM on November 22, 2005

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