As a follow up to yesterday’s post about Niman Ranch, I thought I’d share this piece from The Atlantic by Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman about heritage turkeys. Your average grocery store turkey has been bred for fast growth and lots of white meat, so much so that they can’t fly or mate naturally and even have trouble walking as they age. Pasture-raising turkeys that are more like wild breeds requires extra time and care, and as such entails greater expense and risk for farmers. For the inside scoop, check out this report from the Rodale Institute (from 2003 but still very informative).
If you’re thinking about ordering a pastured-raised, heritage turkey from a local farm for Thanksgiving, wait no longer! Some area farms are already running out. Jordandal Farms, for example, posted on their Facebook page that they can’t accept any more orders. (They suggest contacting Metcalfe’s Sentry at Hilldale since some of their birds will be sold there.) Based on their website, it looks like the JenEhr Family Farm in Sun Prairie may still be accepting orders. Other farms may have birds available, but in limited quantities. For example, Coulee View Family Farm in Wauzeka, Wisconsin, reports that they base the number of heritage turkeys that they raise on the pre-orders they have early in the year (though they order a few extra as well). For help finding a local farm in your area, check out this page from Local Harvest, which includes a link to their store that lets you search in your local area, your region, or nationwide.