WHY I PAY MORE FOR THE BEST BIRD
Fall is officially here, and my thoughts have already strayed to a turkey roasting in my oven. The sights and smells of Thanksgiving are my most favorite things in the world. To ensure that I have the perfect turkey dinner, I start with the perfect turkey. For me, the perfect bird can only come from Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative.
I started purchasing from Falling Sky Farm before the cooperative was formed. My first look at the turkey, and I knew this was a special bird. Beautiful shape and size, and larger for its weight than a store-bought turkey. That meant more meat! Also, I knew Cody and Andrea had taken special care of this bird and raised it responsibly.
There was one tiny drawback to the pasture-raised bird: the price. On average, my Thanksgiving turkey costs $98. Some people will stop right there and not pass go. But I’m going to tell you why it’s worth every penny.
One bite of Grass Roots turkey and you’ll know it’s worth the cost. But deciding to spend that kind of money for only a part of your holiday meal—right before Christmas expenses hit—is tough. So, here’s my solution. I make the decision to by a Grass Roots turkey early in the year. To make my dreams of a perfect Thanksgiving feast complete, I commit to the best bird—both in terms of flavor and farming practices. And to make the price tag easier to swallow, I started a turkey jar.
It is just a simple mason jar. I decorated it with a few fall-inspired stickers of pumpkins and leaves. And I put all of my spare change into this jar. Any pennies I find on the ground, in a stray pocket, or especially in the laundry, go in. By starting it early in the year, I have a good long time to gather up bits here and there. By the time fall descends, my jar is filled and ready to make my purchase. Part of the joy of things like the holidays or vacations is the anticipation of enjoyment to come. The sound of plunking coins into my jar reminds me again of what is important in my life: family and truly good food.
Let’s go back to the reasons saving for a Grass Roots bird is sooooo worth it. Again, I’ll start with taste. It is a full, true turkey flavor. Not game-y at all, and not pumped with watery-salt solutions like grocery store birds are.
And I would be leaving out a big part of the story if I stopped there. These turkeys are raised by farmers who really care about what they are doing. They get their turkey poults as early as July. They are kept in a safe, large brooding area until large enough to be outside (which doesn’t take long). They are then moved to pasture, where they have shelter from predators and are moved onto fresh grassland twice a day. They forage for weeds and bugs, enjoy the sunshine, roam about, and generally do what turkeys do. The feed given to them is special mix that is certified to be non-GMO. The humane treatment of the animals is important to me and to my family, and it’s certainly important to the Grass Roots farmers, too. Or else they wouldn’t work so hard to raise them the way they do.
Another way I justify the cost is by using the whole animal. Obviously, we eat all the meat. If there’s any leftover from our feast we make sandwiches or turkey pot pie. But I also use the carcass to make bone broth. Here’s my recipe.
I put the bones in a large stockpot with any vegetables I have on hand, like onions, celery, and carrots. I also add in a few extras, like peppercorns, cloves, and herbs. I add about 8 cups of water, just enough to cover everything. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. I let it simmer for at least 6 hours. This ensures that all of the goodness in the bones (gelatin, trace minerals) is drawn out into the water. After straining it and letting it cool to room temperature, I ladle it into glass mason jars and freeze the broth. When I am ready to use it, I move a jar into the refrigerator the night before, and it is ready to be used in any recipe calling for chicken stock. This is one more way to make the joy of the holidays last through the year!
So if, like me, you want to make the holidays as a meaningful as you can, choose a meal you feel good about. For me, that meal starts with a Grass Roots turkey, which starts with a turkey jar.