November 20, 2012

Is a Pastured Turkey Worth All That?

Harry Carr of Mint Creek Farm

How to cope with turkey sticker shock.

If that buzzword-turkey you ordered at the farmer’s market has given you sticker shock, here are some coping mechanisms. “Buzzword,” you know, as in: “pasture-raised, heritage breed, organically fed, non-GMO, happy turkey.” I just needed a small bird in the ten pound range and it was going for $5.25 per pound.I signed up for a turkey that cost over $50. Yikes!

It made me wonder what a turkey with fewer buzzwords goes for these days. Turns out I could get a 20-pound Butterball for $20. Twice as large, less than half the price. So there you go. Those are the simple economics of buzzword-turkey.

Since it’s a number that scares me—the big Five-O—maybe I could talk myself down with numbers. I would feed six members of my family with this bird and then each of us would eat leftovers. That means I’m getting at least 12 portions which run around $4 per portion. Already my heart rate is calming. Then, of course I can make stock from the carcass, for extra credit.

But really I chose this turkey because I like knowing who raised it—the caring people at Mint Creek Farm. People. Real people raised my bird and are offering it to me to help feed my family. Buying it from them means I’m helping them feed their family. They looked after tom for me all year. I couldn’t insult them with the Butterball price of $10 for their efforts, could I? How could a farmer survive by selling 10 pound turkeys for $10? I’m no farmer, but I can see that’s ridiculous. Hmm…I wonder how those big operations make that work…steroids, GMOs, confinement lot.

I also know that Mint Creek farms biodynamically to improve soil quality, and because they’d like to reduce the size of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Let me say that again:

This small farm in Illinois is making farming decisions with the health of the Gulf of Mexico in mind.

I’m starting to feel like I should offer them $100 for that $50 turkey. I think maybe I’m getting a good deal! As for the $22 black Angus T-bone my wife and I split for dinner recently, well, I think that was just a splurge!


Ed: Kate B.

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