Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Turkey Story 2011
They hatched out a little earlier than we expected and traveled up the I-5 corridor in a pickup truck nestled together in boxes lined with straw. When the owner of the hatchery showed up, we put the chicks in warm safe homes with plenty of food and water.
As soon as the chicks were old enough to move out to the grass, we set up turkey tractors so that they could safely be moved around the pastures. They spent their lives eating fresh grass and helping us fertilize for the cows, sheep, chickens, and goats who all graze on rotation. This pastured life is what gives our turkeys such incredible flavor, the omega 3s that are so good for us, and puts their waste right where it belongs, on the land to support the next growth cycle.
Pastured life is not perfect, and some turkeys succumb to the weather, others make a meal for raccoons and hawks. Predation is a problem we are constantly addressing, but is also just part of living outside. The fluctuation in temperature and the rain does affect some of the weaker birds, but also means that only the strongest and healthiest birds survive, resulting in fantastic flavor.
Why Pay so Much?
Many of us have to be price conscious when we shop and every purchase is a calculated choice. Here at the farm we frequently hear the question, "Why are your turkeys so much more expensive than the same thing I can get in the grocery store?". We also hear, "Why are your turkeys so much better than the same thing I can get in the grocery store?" from those who have served one of our turkeys in the past. The answer to both of those questions is simple. It isn't the same thing.
You will not find pasture raised turkeys in the grocery store. Low price means an economy of scale that cannot be met by grass-eating birds. Federal law does not require that Cage Free, Free Range, Farm Fresh, and Natural, mean that the birds have spent a single day outside or on fresh grass. These marketing ploys are used to appeal to our desire to be healthy.
As with all of our products, our prices cover our growing costs and our marketing costs. Pasture raised meat is labor intensive, expensive to raise, and cannot be done on a massive scale. The difference in flavor and benefits might be worth a smaller bird and more side dishes this year, or a generous gift to your guests.