Fluoride Content of Farm-Fresh Thanksgiving Turkey

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my parent’s house in Pennsylvania, where my mom cooked the best turkey dinner I can remember.  The highlights included homemade cranberry sauce with Granny Smith Apples and almonds, mashed potatoes with cream separated fresh from the cow, and a perfectly roasted Turkey from a local farm.  The whole meal was delicious.

The next day, my mom made a rich broth with the turkey carcass.  She added some noodles, an onion, and frozen corn from the farm. It was the perfect accompaniment to our Thanksgiving leftovers the next night.

Cystic Acne from Turkey Stock?

That same evening, the familiar signs of fluoroderma began to show themselves in all the familiar places: on my chin, around my temples, on the back of my neck.  At the time, I didn’t consider it could have been caused by the turkey broth. I thought it was because my parent’s live in a house with fluoridated water, even though I made every effort to avoid using water from the tap.

Because of the new breakouts, I was relieved to leave Fluorideville the next day. My mom sent me home with a generous portion of leftover turkey, which I dutifully ate at nearly every meal until it was gone (at over $4 a pound, how could I let it go to waste?). I was fine with the turkey meat, but on my final turkey meal of the Thanksgiving holiday I had another outbreak.  It was the drumstick, and more specifically, all the fat crispy turkey skin that went along with it.

Fluoride Content of Turkey Bones

Looking back, I should have realized the fluoride content of turkey would give me problems. I suppose I was in denial.  As with chickens, fluoride accumulates in the bones and fatty tissue of turkeys –even the expensive turkey my mom bought this year. It was bred, raised, and processed on a local farm in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.  It even drank clean well water it’s whole life. But this turkey wasn’t organic, which means it ate poultry feed from soy and corn treated with pesticides, many of which are fluoride-based.

The high fluoride content of commercially-raised chicken is well documented, but I did not find a lot of information about the fluoride content of turkey.  In this abstract of an article published in The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry entitled Fluoride Content of Foods Made with Mechanically Separated Chicken, the authors explain that unlike with chicken, foods made from mechanically deboned turkey are not a significant source of fluoride.  But if we take a closer look at their research, we learn this fact does not mean they thought turkey bones contain less fluoride. Instead, the authors conclude that mechanically processed turkey is low in fluoride because the bones are difficult to crush  (see Fluoridation News Releases: Fluoride in Chicken).

Tracing the source of every breakout is a challenge I do not claim to have mastered, but after two years of studying my body’s reaction to fluoride it is definitely a skill I have refined to some degree. At the very least, we need more studies about the fluoride content of the foods we are eating. They need to be detailed and specific: turkey skin, turkey bones, turkey stock, dark meat, white meat, organic, free-range, etc.

Next year, I will be sure to splurge on a bird I know is organic.

*This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitcken Kop, Fight Back Friday hosted at FoodRenegade, and Monday Mania hosted at The Healthy Home Economist.

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Comments

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Jackie @ Crest Cottage says:
12/1/2010

Wow! That is so interesting. I actually didn’t know anything about poultry holding onto Fluoride. Thanks for opening my eyes. I definitely want to learn more about it.

Reply

I had no idea either until I was diagnosed with fluoroderma (cystic acne cause by fluoride ingestion). Now it all makes sense. I used to think the only sources of fluoride exposure were toothpaste and fluoridated water, but there are a lot of other sources most of us don’t know about. I wrote about many of them in this guest post for DearThyroid.org: 9 Sources of Fluoride Exposure You Might Not Recognize

Also, the website for the Fluoride Action Network has info on a lot of important studies on fluoride. http://www.fluoridealert.org/

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Elizabeth Walling says:
12/1/2010

Very interesting indeed. I’m finding more and more motivation to include more organic foods in our grocery budget.

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Me too, Elizabeth. I may or may not have a flip-top cell phone with a pull out antenna (okay, yes I do), but I will not sacrifice my food budget!

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WordVixen says:
12/1/2010

Your parents are in Lancaster County, I assume (you said Pennsylvania Dutch Country)? That’s where I live! I begged and bribed (offered to pay half) my parents to buy a pastured turkey from our local farmer’s market, and they did- it was only $3/LB. Apple orchard raised, too, which I hold responsible for the sweetness of the breast meat. 🙂

I believe the stand is called Country Meadows, and they have a stand at Yoder’s Farmer’s Market in Leola (literally next door to the Leola Family Restaurant), and also a stand at Central Market in downtown Lancaster. It was a terrific turkey, and the people there are so nice. I do recommend getting a good meat thermometer though, if you decide to go with a pastured turkey instead of simply organic (their’s is both, though they may supplement with grains, I don’t know) because pastured birds are much leaner, and so they cook faster.

Also, I totally know what you mean about this year’s dinner being the best- my parents have started buying a lot of organic produce, and are buying grassfed butter and such. It makes a huge difference!

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They are east of Lancaster county, which perhaps accounts for the high markup. Next year I’ll have to tell her about the market you mentioned in Leola. A pastured organic turkey at a lower price is surely worth the extra drive. Thanks for the info!

Glad to hear your Thanksgiving was just as delicious. I’m so thankful my parents are happily jumping on the Real Food Bandwagon. In addition to the wonderful food on visits home, there’s also all the health benefits to be grateful for, too.

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WordVixen says:
12/3/2010

I’m still in shock that my dad has started buying raw milk. 😀 It really is awesome to have parents that get it, or at least some of it.

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I was surprised how readily my parents and some of their siblings accepted the raw milk idea. I think it’s because my grandfather was a milkman and having farm-fresh milk reminds them of when they were kids. The taste takes them back. They love it!

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Ellen says:
12/3/2010

What a horrifying story, Melissa! I had never put two and two together about the poultry feed/fluoride connection. I’m wondering how many organic chickens drink fluoridated water?

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I’ve wondered that same thing, Ellen. I could be wrong, but it seems most farmers don’t use the public water system.

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