This year, it seems Thanksgiving cooks aren’t as concerned with how to prepare their turkey than with ensuring its top-notch pedigree. They shop at Whole Foods, seek “organic” and “free-range” labels, shun Butterball, and might even order a “Heritage Turkey” – so named because they are the same wild breeds the Pilgrims ate.
The LA Times commented on these upscale birds in an article today, quoting various turkey sellers:
“Customers are much more into food now than they were a few years ago because of food magazines and TV shows,” said Theo Weening, global meat coordinator for Whole Foods. “People want to know where the bird comes from, what breed it is, how it’s been raised.”
In my opinion, the current “food trend” has been influenced by much more than magazines and TV, although those venues may be two of the most visible. So many elements of our culture and daily lives seem to scream “Food is important and you gotta care!” (Some of this is misplaced, I believe, but that’s a topic for another day.)
I, too, am interested in my turkey’s provenance, breed, and upbringing. Here’s what I know:
- is from Mary’s Turkeys, owned and operated by the Pitman family since 1954
- bears the slogan: “Free range – taste the difference!”
- comes from the Central Valley, where the farm has “areas four times the size of the average commercial turkey ranch.” (To relieve stress. For the turkeys, not the farmers.)
- was fed on a vegetarian, high-protein diet of healthful grains
- contains no antibiotics, animal by-products, hormones, preservatives or additives.
- is organic
- boasts “Complete Traceability to Farm,” according to the package
- cost about $40 from Whole Foods (Let’s not forget that some Thanksgiving cooks don’t have the means to splurge. Shopping organic and free range – not to mention “heritage” – simply isn’t an option for many. And is Butterball really all that bad?)
Does all this mean my turkey will taste better? We’ll see tomorrow… but I’m guessing it will. (And the apple sage brine should be a lovely addition.) Certainly, the part of my conscience that cares about humanely-treated poultry will be satisfied.
*Update: 11/24/11, 6:15 pm
And here it is!