While Thanksgiving is just about a month away, local turkey farmers have been planning all year round for this special holiday. For many of us, our Thanksgiving turkey is usually a freebie from our local grocery store, which we receive for spending a certain amount of money on other goodies. It is sometimes an afterthought while shopping, the only qualifier being weight. We often receive it as a frozen bird which requires much planning – defrosting, brining, trussing, roasting, dressing – it can be overwhelming.
This year, I encourage you to look spend a little more time thinking about, and making your turkey purchase. There are several ways to do this. We are lucky in Maryland to have several local turkey farmers, here and also in surrounding states. Consider buying your turkey from a local farmer, fresh, for the holiday. Not only will you support local agriculture, but also will receive a high-quality, sustainably raised turkey.
Consider trying a "heritage breed" turkey. Heritage breeds are the breeds of turkeys that were popular in America in the early 1900's. They are typically leaner than the mass-farmed turkeys we may be used to, and are not pumped with fillers. They have fabulous flavor and plenty of dark meat, and cook in less time than traditional grocery store turkeys. Heritage breed turkeys are usually raised in open pasture, which is also a major benefit.
As for me, I'll be purchasing my Thanksgiving turkey from Friends & Farms, in Columbia. Friends & Farms is offering fresh, free range Bourbon Red turkeys to Marylanders, for pick up the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Their turkeys have been raised by farmer Alden Lesher, in Chambersburg PA since May. Visit www.friendsandfarms.com to see the details about the turkeys, the farm they were raised on, and browse through some Thanksgiving recipes.