what is a "heritage" turkey?

Today, a growing number of people are skipping the traditional supermarket version of the Thanksgiving turkeys that are richer in flavor. Breeds such as the Narragansett and the Bourbon Red were once common Thanksgiving fare in America. With the advent of large scale farming, these breeds lost favor to the more dominant bird in today’s supermarkets: The broad breasted white. Today, interest in these so-called Heritage breeds is reborn thanks to a movement among conservationists who understand that endangered species can be saved if a commercial market is created for them.

The Heritage turkey breeds—the image of the "perfect" Norman Rockwell painting notwithstanding—are a part of American culinary history. Yet the birds that our forefathers knew and cherished virtually became extinct. The population of the Narragansett, the oldest turkey variety in the United States, and once the foundation of the New England turkey industry, was recently reduced to fewer than 100 live birds nationwide. Mary’s turkey ranch is one of few ranches that have brought back some of these heritage breeds by raising and marketing unique Heritage turkeys. The Heritage turkeys take us back to the days when we anticipated the Thanksgiving meal with pleasure. It seems too good to be true: Eating something this unique and delicious is a strategy for preserving biodiversity. Bristol Farms is proud to offer Heritage Turkeys for our customers’ thanksgiving and holiday celebrations.