Before supermarkets and distributors made mass-produced livestock dominant on the market, American farms raised a wide variety of farm animal breeds. These were developed over centuries for being able to thrive in their particular climate and environment, and for the flavor and texture of their meats.
Red Bourbon and Narragasett Turkeys, Dark Cornish chicken, Buff geese, Berkshire pork, Tunis lamb, Red Poll beef and American bison, are only a few of the wide range of heritage breeds being raised by American farms.
Despite being ideally suited to their particular climate and vegetation, forming an integral part of the land's ecosystem, many of these breeds have become rare, and in some cases almost extinct. This is mainly because they do not respond profitably to the challenge of mammoth industrial meat and poultry production. In fact, there are only a handful of livestock breeds that do "respond well" to factory farming. These animals have been artificially bred out of most of their natural instincts and will thrive and rapidly become indecently obese on entirely artificial diets.
Heritage meats are different from their industrial counterpart: They often have less excess fat, a tighter muscular grain, and superior flavor.
Rescuing heritage breeds is preserving our cultural heritage, a part of America's bio-diversity and a resource for future generations. It also means enjoying some of the best meats in the world while helping small farmers and breeders survive.
Raising these breeds can be more costly and time consuming than raising the more common ones, which were developed for productivity. This makes heritage meats tipically more expensive than supermarket fare, but those who have tasted them agree that the cost -and the wait- are well worth it.