By now, many of us have seen the Portlandia skit where the hyper-local couple attack a very patient waitress with a slurry of questions about the chicken on a restaurant’s menu. Is it local? In how large of an area could it roam? Did he have friends? By the end of the sketch, the couple leaves the restaurant, drives to the farm, and cavorts with something akin to a cult on the farm’s land. As outlandish as the skit may seem, a new technology places us closer to this imagined future than we previously thought.
Coming out of Texas, a new feature makes it possible for consumers to trace their turkeys, just in time for Thanksgiving. Buyers of Honeysuckle White turkeys in select Texas grocery stores can use a code on the packaging to find out more about their bird’s origins, see pictures of the farm where it was raised, and read a message from the farmer. To submit your code, head to the brand's website and get tracing.
So far, the tracking project is only in its pilot phase—Cargill Inc., the Minneapolis-based company that owns Honeysuckle White, is gauging its effectiveness and success. It's important to note that the traceable turkeys won’t cost any more than their unmarked counterparts. Cargill, the nation’s third-largest turkey producer, is running the trial to test consumer interest in transparency.
This development is very much a response to the burgeoning interest in the way our food gets to our plates. Consumers are paying increasing amounts of attention to where our food comes from, and supermarkets and national food companies are taking note, rolling out developments that peel back the curtain on our food chain.
I, for one, am happy to see a little corporate accountability and transparency built into the way we eat. And while we’re not quite yet at the Portlandia level of awareness, the turkey tracking technology feels like a move in that direction.
What are your thoughts on this new technology? Let us know in the comments.
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.
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