Turkey Day Coach

from digitalgallery.nypl.org

My pal AC recently called me his "vegetarian Turkey Day coach"--and I was so happy about this label, that I figured I'd share some of my coaching with you.

You see, AC had heard some of the awful things about the way that modern day grocery store turkeys are produced, and he wasn't so happy about the fact that baby turkeys have their upper beaks snipped off, or that in the fourth week turkey chicks are packed into a room with 24-hour-a-day bright light, which disrupts their natural sleep cycles, so that they can be kept awake and force-fed all day long. He wasn't  thrilled about the fact that conventional turkeys are pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from the over-crowded conditions, or that they have been bred to have so much white breast meat that they can't stand on their own, and can't reproduce without artificial insemination. (Read more in this recent article: The Truth About Turkey).

But, although there are many options for a delicious turkey-less Thanksgiving, AC wanted to treat his family to a better version of the classic holiday dish. He wanted a turkey, but not one from a conventional factory farm.

Here are a few tips I offered him:
  1. Check out the local co-op or natural foods store.  Ours, the Willy Street Co-op, is taking orders now: http://www.willystreet.coop/turkey_preorder
  2. Go to the farmers' market. Our local one, the Dane County Farmers' Market, has a super feature on its website where you can search for particular products and then see what vendors offer those products. So, a search for turkey takes you here: Turkey Search Results. Nine options locally! 
  3. You can also contact a particular vendor and do a pre-order directly from a farm. One great options in the Madison area is JenEhr Family Farm, which is where AC ended up purchasing his turkey.
  4. If you're not in the Madison area, check out your local listings, or find a farm on Eat Wild.