"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Turkey Rant

Tomorrow is my big debut....my first Thanksgiving dinner for my tiny little fam!
I have been researching and preparing all week for this dinner.
The turkey has been in the fridge, in a dry brine, since Thursday. The Pumpkin Pie dough and Challah bread for my stuffing started Friday night. And, as you read this Saturday, I am making more preparations and picking up last minute things at the local farmer's market.

My goal was to make this as much of a SOLE Thanksgiving dinner as possible - meaning the food is sustainable, organic, local and ethical. Most of this was not a problem. The turkey, however, is another story. I wanted to purchase one from a local farm, but I learned I was a little late in the game reserving one. I did find one farmer who still had some available, however, they were rather large and I was only looking for something around 10-12 pounds. So, I ended up at a local grocery store - Giant Eagle. I didn't really want to go this route, but it is what worked for this time around. Next year I will know better and make a reservation with a local farm early!

I could have stood at their turkey display all day trying to figure out what I wanted. They did have a few 'fresh' turkeys under their 'Nature's Basket' line, which are labeled as a 'all-natural' turkey. Upon further reading on the packaging, it stated something to the effect of the USDA not allowing any growth hormones etc to be added to poultry. I can't say I had ever heard this before, actually, I have heard the complete opposite! But the way it was worded made me believe that this statement applied to any turkey in front of me, not just the Nature's Basket line. I ultimately knew better - marketing at it's finest. Everything is so misleading you can't trust any labels anymore.

I opted for the plain 'ol Giant Eagle branded 'fresh' turkey since it came in a size I could work with. It was not labeled 'organic' or that it was 'all-natural' and not pumped up with hormones. It did say 'No MSG'. I am not stupid, I knew it wasn't the ideal turkey I had hoped to serve, but it worked for me this time around and it was fresh, which was nice. I wasn't convinced anyways, that the 'Nature's Basket' branded turkey was truly any different than this one, other than the packaging. Once I took it home and 'undressed' the bird, it was a complete disappointment. The whole inside of the turkey was frozen!! I couldn't even get the neck and other goodies out. This wouldn't have been such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that I paid about $1/lb extra for a turkey that was supposedly fresh.

(Photo Credit: Giant Eagle.com)

Of course this isn't ruining the dinner. It is not like the turkey is bad, or inedible. It is just the point. The principal. I came to terms with the fact that this years bird wouldn't be from a local farmer, but at the very least, I would have hoped that when I purchased a turkey stating 'fresh' on the packaging, as opposed to the neighboring cooler of 'frozen' birds, that I would truly be getting a fresh bird!

Just a few other random rants - why does a bird pumped full or hormones and garbage cost more than a bird left to free-graze on bugs? One would think that it cost more to pump all those hormones than to let the bird feed off bugs...I'm just saying.....

And, if you think I am overreacting about this in general...about buying a bird from a grocery store instead of a local farmer, just google something like 'turkeys from giant eagle' or 'turkey from the grocery store', 'giant eagle turkey' and you tell me how you feel about all the recalls due to salmonella that pop up. Seriously, big ag sucks! Know what you grow!! Here is one more good food for thought article - and now I have to stop because I am going onto a completely different tangent!

So, where do you purchase your bird?


Unknown said...

I love your honesty! I really try to but free range all natural meats but I dont always do it - esp when it comes to bacon - our grocery store doesnt carry free range bacon.

For Thanksgiving my family does the good ole pumped full of hormone stuff in a tiny stall and shoved food and hormones to eat kind of turkey. We have to have a large one for the amount of people we have and no one is going to spend the large amount on an organic turkey for the size we need. Ive never done my own thanksgiving so I havent bought a turkey but if it was just Scott and I sure I would try and buy a organic one but I wouldnt beat myself up over it. We always deep fry our turkey but I bet yours is going to be great since you are doing a brine! I cant wait to read about how it all turned out!! good luck!

Ashlee said...

I was right beside you while reading that post. I have not bought meat/poultry/fish/etc from GE in several years. All they are are marketers and hormone pushers. I ordered my FIRST fresh turkey this year from the place at the WestSide Market where I get all my poultry... I ordered it over a month ago! Even though the farm is not local, they have the best quality poultry I can find. I am excited to see if I can tell a difference in the meat since it is fresh...

Even though that turkey is not the kind you wanted, I am sure it will be delicious! I never thought of doing a dry brine... I may have to try that!!!

Kim said...

Kudos for trying to do it all SOLE! I agree with you about the turkeys~we got a "fresh" one yesterday (for free)...it should be thawed by next Easter...:)

Would love to know how to do a dry brine! Good luck with your dinner!

Susan said...

We're vegetarian...so I go with a Quorn "turkey" roast (I hate tofurky!) But what my family has always loved is the sides and that's what I concentrate on to make it a balanced meal, starting with my Bean & Kale soup, apple/pear/cranberry salad with pistachios and brioche croutons, etc.
It's funny but I was asking my son-in-law if he was going to be able to have a "Thanksgiving" in Madrid and he said, "turkey is not something you see in their stores, although, there use to be a lot of wild turkeys a long time ago, they've pretty much been eliminated :(! I said that wild turkey doesn't have a lot of meat on it since it hasn't been pumped up with hormones and antiobiotics! I feel your pain and know that my sister orders her about a month ahead to have it fresh, so mark your calendar that by Halloween next year, you place your order to avoid the disappointment.
If you go to the King Arthur website, they have lots of make ahead dishes to do...even rolls, to alleviate the rush on the day.
Happy Holidays Dear Friend, it's the effort that counts--always. XOXO

Debi said...

Sounds like a good meal to me.

Bee Girl said...

I hear you! We get our turkey each year from a Co-op that sources from local and semi-local farmers. I prefer the ones "grown" in NM but this year we were too late and I think ours was from CO. We always get certified Organic and man do we pay for that! We are seriously considering growing our own turkeys as soon as we can...not sure we can do it on 1/8 acre, but one day...
It's such a learning process! Hope your meal is divine!!!