The Strange History of the Turkey Tail

Live Science | 11/21/2018 | Staff
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Intensive livestock farming is a huge global industry that serves up millions of tons of beef, pork and poultry every year. When I asked one producer recently to name something his industry thinks about that consumers don't, he replied, "Beaks and butts." This was his shorthand for animal parts that consumers — especially in wealthy nations — don't choose to eat.

On Thanksgiving, turkeys will adorn close to 90 percent of U.S. dinner tables. But one part of the bird never makes it to the groaning board, or even to the giblet bag: the tail. The fate of this fatty chunk of meat shows us the bizarre inner workings of our global food system, where eating more of one food produces less-desirable cuts and parts. This then creates demand elsewhere — so successfully in some instances that the foreign part becomes, over time, a national delicacy.

Dark - Matter - Hurricane - Weird - Reptile

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U.S. commercial turkey production increased from 16 million pounds in January 1960 to 500 million pounds in January 2017. Total production this year is projected at 245 million birds.

Quarter-billion - Turkey - Tails - Parson - Pope

That includes a quarter-billion turkey tails, also known as the parson's nose, pope's nose or sultan's nose. The tail is actually a gland that attaches the turkey's feathers to its body. It is filled with oil that the bird uses to preen itself, so about 75 percent of its calories come from fat.

It's not clear why turkeys arrive at U.S. stores tailless. Industry insiders have suggested to me that it may simply have been an economic decision. Turkey consumption was a novelty for most consumers before World War II, so few developed a taste for the tail, although the curious can find recipes online. Turkeys have become larger, averaging around 30 pounds...
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