Let's Talk Turkey — Locally Grown Ones

Want to serve a locally grown bird for your feast this year? Reserve your free-range turkey today from one of these North Bay farms that offer the finest quality, humanely raised poultry.

In a week, families and friends will gather at tables across the country to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a time for gratitude — toasting our bountiful blessings while piling our plates high with a cornucopia of festive foods: creamy mashed potatoes, savory stuffing, tart cranberry sauce, and spiced pumpkin pie.

At the center of the traditional feast is a big-breasted bird whose signature "gobble" prompts fans of all ages to state their preference for "white meat or dark?"

I'm talking, of course, about the turkey.

Whether slow-roasted in the oven with butter and herbs or immersed in a pot of hot oil and fried to a golden, crispy-skinned finished, this bird is the undeniable centerpiece of most traditional celebrations. That's why it's important not to skimp when it comes to the quality of the meat that graces your table.

If you want to make your feast truly special this year, consider ordering a locally grown, pasture-fed bird direct from one of the following North Bay farms. Their free-range turkeys may carry a premium price tag, but they are guaranteed to provide your guests with the tastiest, humanely raised meat possible. NOTE: These sustainably raised birds are available in limited supply and are selling out quickly. Don't delay in reserving your turkey!

Marin Sun Farms, located in West Marin, offers two varieties of pasture-raised turkeys to choose from. The Broad Breasted Bronze is a classic bird bred to maximize white breast meat. The farm also raises several Heritage variety birds including Spanish Black, Narragansett, Bronze, and White Holland, whose meat more closely resembles that of a wild turkey. These latter Heritage breeds yield more rich dark meat in the finished bird, and are described as "the premier option for taste and rarity".

Turkeys raised at Marin Sun Farms live a quality life, allowed to roam free-range while foraging on a natural diet of grasses, berries, seeds, insects, and pasture plants. They are never given artificial growth hormones or stimulants, and are guaranteed to be antibiotic free.

To pre-order your Thanksgiving turkey direct from Marin Sun Farms, use one of the following options:

* Online butcher shop at www.marinsunfarms.com/retail

* Contact Mike at 415-663-8997, x106 or email mdelponte@marinsunfarms.com  

* In person at the following retail butcher counters: 10905 Shoreline Hwy 1, Point Reyes Station, (415) 663-8997 x 201; or Oakland's Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Avenue, (510) 601-8997.

* In person at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Saturdays from 8:00am-2:00pm, or the San Rafael Civic Center Farmers' Market, Sundays from 8:00am-1:00pm.

Patrons who pre-order a turkey from Marin Sun Farms can select from several Bay Area pick-up locations.

Tara Firma Farms, located at 3796 I Street in the rolling hills west of Petaluma, has a limited supply of pasture-raised White Broad-Breasted turkeys available for purchase. These free-range birds spend their lives feeding on naturally occurring forage from the field, supplemented with fresh fruits, veggies, and organic grain mix. They are always hormone and antibiotic free. This sustainable farm’s commitment to humane husbandry practices extends all the way to processing the birds on site with minimal stress to the animals.

Tara Firma is now accepting credit card deposits to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey. Call (707) 765-1202 for more information, or visit their website at www.tarafirmafarms.com .

Willie Bird Turkeys, based in Sonoma County, is a family run farm that has raised free-range turkeys since 1948. The Benedetti Family, owners of Willie Bird Turkeys, developed their now famous recipe for wet-curing finished birds in a low-salt marinade of special oils and spices, then aging the meat to perfection before smoking it over natural alderwood.

Each bird is fully cooked, cooled, and vacuum-sealed to retain maximum  flavor and freshness. The resulting taste has a "depth and character of flavor" that has become synonymous with the Willie Bird trademark. These birds need only gentle re-heating before serving which makes them a convenient option for your Thanksgiving buffet or table.

In addition to their whole smoked birds, patrons may also buy fresh natural free-range or free-range organic turkeys at Willie Bird.

To order your Willie Bird Turkey or ask about shipping rates, call (877) 494-5592, or (707) 545-2832. For more information, refer to their website at www.williebird.com. Pre-ordered turkeys are available for pick-up at the farm's retail store, located at 5350 Highway 12, Santa Rosa, California (near Sebastopol). Turkeys can also be shipped via 2nd day FedEx.

If you want to garner raves at this year's Thanksgiving feast, you can't go wrong with a turkey from one of these local North Bay farms. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Wire November 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I really recommend this video for cooking your turkey, we have had the best moist turkey the last eight years. The white meat is still moist after five days. We always had a fresh bird. Romancing the Bird http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEi_q4U5c3Q
Wire November 16, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Ingredients 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey For the brine: 1 cup kosher salt 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 gallon vegetable stock 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger 1 gallon heavily iced water For the aromatics: 1 red apple, sliced 1/2 onion, sliced 1 cinnamon stick 1 cup water 4 sprigs rosemary 6 leaves sage Canola oil http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html
Karen Pavone November 16, 2012 at 07:43 AM
Thanks for sharing--sounds yummy!
Wire November 26, 2012 at 10:41 PM
It was grandpa's very first brined turkey in 93 years, I can remember over forty years ago about grandma getting up 4AM fixing the Thanksgiving turkey and how dry the breast meat was. In 43 years I never saw him eat that much bird without a complaint. Not hearing a word mean so much to Me. He stuffed himself. All he said an Granny got up so early, my wife said it's beautiful! Plus I cooked it in a strange oven.
Rico November 27, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I'm glad your grandpa liked the brined turkey. I also brought an organic turkey to my mothers house, and for the first time ever we had a had a brined turkey. My mother hated it, and I thought it was the best turkey that I have ever had, very moist and tender. My mother complained that it was too salty, too expensive and claimed that it was too dry. She is still extremely mad at me, so I will refrain from calling her for a few more weeks. I won't offer to make a brined turkey for her ever again. I guess that some older people are set in their ways, and are more concerned about costs (that I paid for) than anything else. I was looking at Willy Bird smoked turkeys, but I don't think that they offer the organic turkeys smoked at this time, maybe I will call them and request organic smoked turkeys for next year. For Christmas I probably will do an organic ham at my house, but I won't tell my mom that it is an organic ham until after she eats it !
Wire November 27, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I never bought a store brined turkey before I have talked to other people into this recipe. This year I heard back from one as this was his third year. He brined it for three days and said it was very salty. Just shows over night is long enough. I do understand about the cost as I sometimes I shop for my wife's dad. Last month I bought the cheapest ham butt I paid to much. We are still lucky as the cost of corn feed has put the producers filing for bankruptcy. Turkey-producer Zacky Farms files for bankruptcy - San Jose ... www.mercurynews.com/.../turkey-producer-zacky-farms-files-bankr... Oct 10, 2012 – FRESNO, Calif.—One of the largest turkey producers in the nation, Zacky Farms, has filed for bankruptcy, blaming the soaring price of feed .
Karen Pavone November 27, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Ricardo is correct--currently Willie Bird does not offer organic smoked turkeys, although I am told by their staff that, although not certified, they feed all their birds with organic guidelines in mind. Certainly hasn't hurt their business. . .their store was a madhouse at Thanksgiving! Perhaps if more of us request organic, they'll listen.
Wire November 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Most organic farmers here in Sonoma County won't play the dollar game that the Federal government wants to regulate organic farmers with. The keeping of daily records of when, how, and by whom, did what diary. That extra cost would cause more waste of food stuff by adding on that extra labor cost of record keeping. They would have to add more employees like a organic book keepers and so on. So natural is the buzz word. gmo's can be organic. Ricardo Charducci. if the turkey is still around one can pull the salt out doing the same thing as brine with just chilled water over night and warm up the turkey again. Salt is removed. Willie bird sends their turkey to the the Big Valley and then ships them back here, from the processor, at one time the smoked turkey were done in Marin County, I'm sure they didn't pass the California's EPA regulations or Marin Counties.
Karen Pavone November 27, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Actually, to the best of my knowledge with regard to the food we buy, GMO's cannot be present in food labeled organic. Farms who feed commercial grains to their livestock, primarily corn & soy, are likely feeding their animals GMO grown crops, but those animals cannot be sold as organic either.
Wire November 28, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Can GMO Food Be Organic? - Blogcritics Tastes blogcritics.org › Tastes Apr 3, 2011 – Until recently, I assumed GMO food could not be called "organic." The U.S. and Canada both prohibit 100% certified organic food from containing GMO ingredients. However, contamination of the crops may cause organic feed to contain some percentage of GMO ingredients. At the Straus Family Creamery in California, for example, Farmer Straus spent nearly $10,000 tracing back the ingredients in his organic supplies, to remove the GMO traces. Basically, the problem is that GMO crops spew pollen into the air, as all crops do. This pollen cross-breeds with organic feed, which pollutes and corrupts the organic farms.
Rico November 28, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I am more likely to trust that a product labeled organic will have no GMO feed. If it was cross contaminated, then that is something that can be settled. I know that the organic certification costs a bundle of money, and I am aware that some producers actually do practice organic farming methods, but can't afford to put the word Organic on the label. But it is up to the consumer to do the research about each producer. Any product (especially meat and poultry) that is not labeled organic is expected to contain GMO corn and soy for feed. Natural means nothing as far as meat goes, Foster Pharms ? It is sad that the GMO pollens can contaminate nearby crops, but a producer like Strauss in west Marin should not need to worry , because Marin has banned GMO crops since 2006. If their products are really grass fed, they should not have to worry about GMO feed trucked in , so what't up with this $10, 000 study ? Is there now GMO grass ?. And I thought Strauss was only in Marin, is it now a conglomerate ?
Wire November 28, 2012 at 04:29 AM
His grain that was sold as certified Organic was only 95 percent organic it's that 5 percent that the bees or mother nature blew into someones organic grain crop. He could had lost his Organic stamp it cost him 10,000 to track down the problem himself.
Rico November 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Thank you. I still am a loyal fan and buyer of Strauss Organic Dairy Products. I buy their butter, ice cream and half and half. I thought I remember seeing Strauss cheese, but I can't seem to find it any more. I support Strauss because it is a local Marin organic dairy, I hope that they fixed the 5% problem, but I will not let it deter me from buying organic. I have to face the fact that while I have complete control of the food that I buy and eat, I cannot control what others serve. So, if I insisted on only eating 100% organic, nobody would ever invite me to dinner parties or out to dinner in restaurants.
Karen Pavone November 28, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I would love more information on your source for this--can you please include links to your resources?
Karen Pavone November 28, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I too am a huge fan of Strauss Family Creamery! If you haven't tried it already, their seasonal Egg Nog is a treat not to be missed (available at their farmers' market booth, WHole Foods, and Paradise Market locally).
Tina McMilllan November 28, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Agreed, Strauss Organic Dairy is great. If you like rich and creamy yogurt, try Brown Cow as well! They have a cream top yogurt that is TO DIE for. Just don't look at the nutritional label because the amount of fat in one serving ... YOWZAS! Not to knock Brown Cow, but I think they've reduced their sizes ... they seem slightly smaller now than what I remember, but of course the price is still the same LOL. With respect to turkey, I agree that brine is THE way to go. I've always wanted to try turkey in a fryer but I don't have one!
Wire November 28, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Can GMO Food Be Organic? - Blogcritics Tastes blogcritics.org › Tastes Apr 3, 2011 – Until recently, I assumed GMO food could not be called "organic." The U.S. and Canada both prohibit 100% certified organic food from... Something about the last election: www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25508.cfm Check out Romney too. The illusion of two parties. This is just me connecting the dots. Kind of like the movie Omen. The True Story. The Omen and Monsanto monsantotheomen.blogspot.com/ Monsanto with the help of the Bush administration is fufilling the real life version of the movie, "The Omen". While not exactly alike the similarities are frightening.
Rico November 28, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Gene splicing food seeds is not going to feed the world. Actually the main problem is in the poor countries where millions go hungry, it is because they don't have enough money to afford the food or the water , tools and land to grow the food. There is more than enough food to feed everyone on earth, the problem is political and economic constraints imposed by the corporations and central banks that rule the world.


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