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It’s Turkey Time!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the turkey hunt is on. Add more flavor to your table this holiday season, while supporting a local business, with a bird raised on a Michigan farm. 

About Local Turkey:

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Laetus Pullus Farm Turkeys

Locally raised turkeys can be quite different than their conventional, store bought counterparts. Usually fresh (not frozen) local turkeys may be a variety of breeds and sizes. As farms process their birds a few days before Thanksgiving, you order a size range (plan on 1.5# per person) instead of an exact weight. The farmer will then do their best to meet your needs. 

Local turkeys left to graze on pasture have access to a more diverse diet of insects, grass, veggie scraps, and grains. The dietary variety of pasture raised birds influences their flavor for the better. Stephanie Willette of Two Track Acres (Grass Lake) says, “I’ve found that local, pasture raised turkeys have excellent flavor and are really juicy – there is a big difference in taste between a free range turkey raised locally, and on a varied diet, than a conventional one.” 

The benefits of a local Thanksgiving turkey extend beyond its delicious flavor. “Buying from a local farmer means that you are supporting folks right in your own community,” Katy Stone of Laetus Pullus Farm (Perry) notes. “You’re not just supporting the farmer that grew the turkey, but the farmers that grew the grain, the local hardware store where the farmer gets supplies, and the local butcher where the meat is processed.”

Tips for Preparing a Local Bird:

Stephanie recommends letting your bird rest for at least one day (in the coldest part of your fridge) and then brining (in the fridge) in saltwater and herbs. This not only adds flavor, but tenderizes the meat. After brining, rub turkey with avocado oil, ghee or butter and a mixture of savory herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, etc.), salt, and pepper.

When cooking your local turkey, expect a faster cooking time due to the higher moisture content. Roast at 325F for 10 minutes per pound (unstuffed) or 12-15 minutes per pound (stuffed). Cook to an internal temperature of 165F – no more, no less. 

Statewide Turkey Farm Directory at a Glance. For more details go to bit.ly/TLDturkey

Mid MI

GCC Organics (Midland)
Laetus Pullus Farm (Perry)
Trillium Wood Farm (Williamston)

Northeast MI

Heritage Acres (Alpena)
Hilltop Hatchery (Ossineke)
Serendipity Farms (Wolverine)

Northwest MI

Biehl’s Circle B Turkey Ranch (Mancelona)
Duerkson’s Turkey Farm (Mancelona)
Hubble Farm (Cedar)
Lee Family Farm (Mancelona)
Morganic Permaculture Farm (Fife Lake)
Sonny’s Farm (Cedar)

Southeast MI

East River Organic Farm (Oxford)
Ernst Farms (Ann Arbor)
Garno Farm (Adrian)
Grima Family Farm (Gregory)
Harnois Farm (Ann Arbor)
John Henry’s (Millington)
RC Organic Farm (Lennox)
Roeske/Hartland Farms (Highland)
Ropertis Turkey Farm (Livonia)
Two Track Acres (Grass Lake)
Webbed Foot Pines (Jasper)

U.P.

Logan Heritage Farm (Goetzville)
Northern Lights Farm (Stephenson)
Smax Farm (Daggett)
Slage’s Family Farm (Felch)

West MI

Chimney Creek Farm (Belding)
Coach Stop Farm (Zeeland)
Creswick Turkey 
Diversity Farms (Mecosta)
Kuntry Garden (Homer)
Otto’s Turkey Farm (Middleville)
S&S Lamb (McBain)

Kelly Wilson, RDN, is the Director of Community Partners for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at kelly@localdifference.org

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  in Eat Local, Find Local Food, Holiday, Recipes