If you're planning on serving turkey this Thanksgiving, have you ordered your bird yet? I'm guessing there are three possible reactions to this question: the self-assured nod of the well-versed foodie, the panicked “I've gotta get on that!” of the more forgetful among us and the “Why would I order one? I'm getting a Butterball from the grocery store.” If that last one is you, you're certainly not alone, but we think you'd be better off choosing a pastured raised turkey or a heritage turkey. Traditional breeds are best suited to be raised in a sustainable manner and reproduce naturally, unlike the common Broad Breasted White found in industrial operations and, unfortunately, served at the majority of Thanksgiving dinners. In fact, heritage turkeys recently won in a taste test over conventional turkeys. So, now that you're convinced, where can you find one? Let’s break it down by region:
A friend of mine living in Madison, Wisconsin recently looked for help through Facebook by posing the following question: “Madison friends: any advice on where to buy a fresh local turkey for t-day?” She got many helpful responses, including (I was happy to see) two Eat Well Guide farms - Ruegseggers Farms and JenEhr Family Farm - that raise heritage turkeys.
A similar model to Heritage Foods in California, Belcampo Meat Company lets you order your pastured turkey online and then pick it up the week of Thanksgiving at their scheduled “Meat-Up.”
Mary’s Turkeys sells organic, free range and heritage wholesale to many stores in the Northeast especially. Check the website to locate a store near you.
Our friends at Slow Food Dallas provide a list of local turkey farmers here.
Heritage Foods USA purchases heritage turkeys from Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Kansas and Leaping Waters Farm in Virginia, available for purchase online through their website and delivered right to your door.
Find a Farmers Market through the USDA. It’s late in the season, but many are open year-round!
Search the Eat Well Guide to locate farms, local co-ops and stores such as Whole Foods that sell pasture-raised and heritage turkeys.