Ordering your local turkey for Thanksgiving from a Michigan grower
Growers have had your Thanksgiving turkey growing on their Michigan farm since early July. Many farmers encourage you to pre-order your turkey to guarantee there will be a fresh bird available for your holiday table.
Autumn brings traditions of the harvest including anticipation of Thanksgiving. Many local food lovers have prepared for Thanksgiving by reserving locally-grown Michigan turkey from local farmers. Christine Miller, a farmer at Spartan Country Meats of Webberville, Michigan has been reminding her customers to pre-order their Thanksgiving turkeys since August via her customer newsletter. Miller and her husband will process and dress all the birds on their farm the Saturday before Thanksgiving and customers can pick up their turkeys at the Meridian Township Farmers Market during a special pre-holiday market.
Farmers like Miller took delivery of turkey poults, or young birds, in early in July and spend the next three months before Thanksgiving making sure they have plenty to eat, fresh water and are safe from harm. Spartan Country Meat’s turkeys are fed a mix of grain. Like most turkey producers growing for Thanksgiving, their birds are Broad Breasted Whites, a breed that produces the large birds that are desired for holiday tables. White turkeys are desirable because colored feathers can result in discolored turkey skin. The discoloration does not affect taste or quality of the meat.
If you pre-order a turkey from a local farm, you may be able to get an unfrozen or fresh turkey which will help your preparation. If you do get a frozen turkey, Michigan State University Extension has good information about how to keep your turkey safe before cooking and how to thaw the bird safely.
Michigan is the 15th largest producer of turkeys in the nation. In 1999, a group of turkey farmers in West Michigan formed the Michigan Turkey Producers Cooperative. This group of farmers process their own turkeys and can supply a large amount of all-natural, anti-biotic free and organic turkey for consumption. Michigan State University Extension supports the growth and consumption of Michigan agricultural products through the Community Food Systems work team.