It is hard to believe how quickly 2021 has gone by as we are just about a month or so away from Thanksgiving. As we find ourselves planning for our Thanksgiving meals, how to cook the turkey often comes into conversation. But before you can cook the turkey, you have to purchase it.
Before you go out and buy a grocery store turkey, consider your local family farm operation by buying a heritage breed and/or pasture-raised turkey for your special meal. If your local producer pastures their turkeys, they can range widely to locate their favorite forages, including bugs and grass. According to an article published by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "the only insects turkeys will not eat are the ones they cannot catch."
These local farmers faced challenges that contributed to the cost of the meat. They had to navigate processors who charged more, switched to weird or inconvenient hours, or closed operations. They also had to contend with higher feed bills, longer shipping times for everything they needed, and more. The average cost of a locally grown turkey is around $4-6 a pound (about ½ the cost per pound of a decent steak).
Four local farms that offer either heritage-breed turkeys and/or pasture-raised turkeys this year are:
- Timberfeast Farm in Chatsworth, IL (Livingston County)
- Garden Gate Farm in Fairbury, IL (Livingston County)
- Caveny Farm in Monticello, IL (Piatt County)
- Triple S Farms in Stewardson, IL (Shelby County)
If you are looking for locally grown vegetables to accompany your turkey, then do a quick search for your local farmers market! Don’t miss out on the plethora of fall bounty available at these markets! Fall is a good time to purchase pie pumpkins, honey, popcorn, root vegetables, winter squash and sweet potatoes (good for storing and cooking many weeks later), meats, cheeses, crafts, and many other fall products that local producers have been working hard all year to provide to consumers at this time of year.
Support your local farmers market, take the Local Thanksgiving Challenge, buy a local turkey this Thanksgiving, and taste the difference for yourself. You’ll know after the first bite that your money was well spent.
Photo Credit: Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nick Frillman is a Local Foods and Small Farms Educator serving Livingston, McLean & Woodford counties. A fourth-generation graduate from University of Illinois, Frillman has a B.A. with a double major of Political Science and Spanish and a M.S. in Crop Science with a focus on crop production. Before joining Illinois Extension, Frillman completed a field season of CSA and farmers’ market style production at a small “beyond-organic” vegetable farm in Sandy, Ore.