Another BBC Turkey
- 18 Aug 06, 07:44 PM
Meet the Newsnight turkey. Not some duff story that will make the editor cringe when he sees it, but the bright eyed bird that will grace the table of Ethical Man and his family this Christmas.
I know some in the Ethical Man audience will not be pleased to see Ned – as the farmer has called him. Some of Ethical Man’s most consistent correspondents are vegans arguing that the only ethical diet is one that is free of all animal products.
Well I am a confirmed meat eater and I have no intention of giving up any time soon – though of course my producer Sara may have other plans.
So what makes Ned ethical?
Well first of all I think that if you decide to eat meat you should be realistic about what that means; namely that birds like Ned must be slaughtered in their prime.
I don’t think we should be squeamish about seeing pictures of the animals we eat – or for that matter, meeting them face to face. The important thing is that we meat eaters should try to ensure that the animals we eat live happy, comfortable lives. So you’ll have guessed already that Ned is a free range bird.
He’s Norfolk Black turkey – the clue is in the plumage - and is being raised by James Graham on Rookery Farm in – that’s right – Norfolk. I haven’t visited the farm yet but I am told that Ned and the rest of his flock are allowed to roam in the meadows and shelter in something called a “pole barn”.
Ned comes from very good stock (I’m hoping he’ll make one too).
The Black turkey was brought from South America in the 1400s by a Spanish explorer called Pedro Nino and the bird became fashionable in the Tudor era. Apparently Henry VIII was partial to a slice or two of Ned’s ancestors.
The Graham family have been raising Norfolk Blacks for decades. They’ve been established at Rookery Farm since 1880 and apparently James’ grandfather helped save the breed from extinction in the 1950.
James raises birds like Ned using traditional methods. As well as what he can scavenge in the fields he will be fed cereals (corn, barley and oats) that James grows on the farm. He parents were allowed to breed naturally (he’s from the Gold family) and none of the turkeys on Rookery Farm are fed additives, antibiotics or growth promoters.
Peeles – as the farm is known – is not certified organic but James says he tries to use as few pesticides and chemical fertilizers as possible on his crops. He says that the cost of applying for organic certification does not make economic sense for a small farm like his.
Obviously an “ethical man” should also strive to ensure that any animals he eats do not suffer during slaughter. The plan is that I may have my own Gordon Ramsey moment and be on hand to ensure that Ned goes to his death a happy, unruffled bird.
But, let’s be honest, eating meat isn’t just about ethics. It is also about flavour and apparently Ned and his kin are the tastiest turkeys you are ever likely to have the pleasure to roast.
I am told that Ned is going to be very moist, have a very fine texture and a wonderful flavour. Norfolk Blacks are said to be as close to those first birds Mr Nino imported to Europe all those years ago. They are said taste like a cross between a pheasant and a turkey.
I hope to be getting more pictures of Ned as he grows. Apparently he looks particularly impressive when he “shows”. Remember: you’ll see those images here first.
In the meantime, roll on Christmas.