We get some interesting letters and emails. Even though some people may send them with an impure motive, we can always learn something from them. Recently, we received an email about turkeys that brings up an interesting point. Turkey meat is often on the menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This person was complaining because, at his house, turkeys don’t have enough dark meat to go around.
The difference between white and dark meat in turkeys and chickens is a lesson in how humans change what God created. If you have ever eaten a wild turkey, you know that it is all dark meat. This is because wild turkeys are very active, running and flying. Having the ability to do these two things means that wild turkeys require more oxygen-carrying blood vessels. With more blood vessels, the meat is darker.
Domestic and factory-raised turkeys don’t use their muscles as much, and with fewer blood vessels, the meat is whiter. The way a turkey is raised affects the nature of the meat. In our area of the country, turkey farms raise large numbers of birds that don’t fly and do very little running. Those are the turkeys you buy at the supermarket, and that will always be the case.
Hawaii has large numbers of chickens in the wild. They fly and run, and if people use them for food, they find very little white meat. In the area we visited in Hawaii, the local people would not eat those free-range chickens because they felt the dark meat was not as good.
I told my questioner that if turkeys don’t have enough dark meat for him, he should bring his shotgun to my house during turkey season. In that way, he could increase the amount of dark meat in his holiday meal. Many of our domestically produced meat products are different from their wild ancestors. God created creatures to survive in the natural world, not to please human preferences.
— John N. Clayton © 2021