What Is My Thanksgiving Turkey?

What Is My Thanksgiving Turkey?

When you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this week, your only concerns for the bird will probably be whether it's tasty and whether it's big enough for you to eat your fill. A turkey's a turkey, right? Not to the American Poultry Association, which classifies eight different domestic breeds of the bird: Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, Black, Slate, Bourbon Red, Beltsville Small White, and Royal Palm.

Three of these breeds -- the Narragansett, White Holland, Beltsville Small White -- are on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy "critical" or "threatened" lists, and the rest, including that Standard Bronze, are on its "watch" list. Which means your Thanksgiving turkey is probably not a standard breed.

So what are you eating? Most likely, the bird on your table is the Broad Breasted White, a non-recognized breed that is can only breed with human assistance. Essentially, they exist only in captivity and only to be used as commercial meat.

According to some, like the folks at LocalHarvest.org, the White is less flavorful than some of the other standard birds, also known as "Heritage" breeds. But the other breeds are more costly to raise and grow slower (and thus produce less meat) than the White, and are not in mass production. So unless you live on or by a small family farm, it's the Broad Breasted White for you.

Click through the slideshow above for some of our favorite holiday turkey recipes!

Image Credit: Getty Images