November 18, 2011

Turkey Options in Portland

It's almost turkey time, kids! Are you getting excited? I am. But that's because I'm going to Maryland to see my family, and I don't have to cook. I realize that's a weird thing for a food blogger to be excited about, but I'm happy to be skipping the canned vs. fresh, the traditional vs. updated spin, the brined vs. smoked debates.

However, in my duty as a Portland food blogger, I seek to keep you informed of your local turkey options.  If you're like me, you've left your research to this weekend.  So here is a list of where to find a turkey and how much it costs, both to your wallet and your conscience.

Trader Joe's

Just like last year, Trader Joe's is sticking with two straightforward options: brined or Kosher (both fresh, not frozen).  Brined turkeys are available in 12-22 lb. increments at $1.99/lb and Kosher turkeys are 12-16 lbs. and $2.49/lb.

TJ's Turkeys are from U.S. farms in Minnesota, California and Pennsylvania and billed as 'All Natural,' which their website defines as "minimally processed with NO artificial ingredients, they never receive any antibiotics or growth hormones, and they are raised on a diet of 100% vegetarian feed." Note that the USDA does not allow the use of growth hormones in poultry or pork, so boastful claims of this are required by law anyways.

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods has three options for turkeys: fresh at $2.29/lb; brined at $2.99/lb.; and all natural, free range, and local (from Misty Knoll, VT) for $3.99/lb, available in 12-20 lbs.

Whole Foods' turkeys adhere to these standards: no antibiotics, vegetarian diet, no added hormones, no added solutions (except when brined) or injections, complete traceability to farm.

I also heard the staff discussing breaking down a turkey for a customer, so if you are looking to feed a smaller amount of people, it sounds as if they'd be willing to cut the turkey up for you.

Rosemont Market and Bakery 

Rosemont has turkeys available for pre-order and then available for pick up next Tues. and Wed. They are out of the Mainely Poultry turkeys, but just emailed to say they have turkeys from The Turkey Farm for $3.49/lb.  If you've ever driven out 27 to Farmington, you've seen these turkeys!  They live by the road in big screened-in pens.  They look pretty happy (as happy as a turkey can look from the highway).  The Turkey Farm does not use antibiotics, fillers, and uses vegetarian, GMO-free turkey food.


Hannaford is where things get a little weird.  Strange things happen at 7:30am at the Forest Ave Hannaford.  There are 5 turkeys options at this store: Nature's Place at $2.49/lb, Butterball at $1.29/lb., Shadybrook Farms at $.99/lb, and Hannaford at $.99/lb, and Marval at $.49/lb.

If you are concerned about the treatment of the animal, the Hannaford Nature's Place brand looks like it might be the only one that considers it.  The others, not so much.  Shadybrook and Marval are owned by Cargill, the number one privately held company in the U.S. in terms of revenue [Forbes].  Yikes!

At $.49/lb (and available in up to 25 lbs!!) Marval turkeys are cheap.  Enter the weirdness.  Despite the 'Limit 1 per customer' sign, there were two men loading up carts with giant, cheap, frozen turkeys.  They were discussing with a meat department employee the availability of cases- one man said he'd like 5 cases if he could get them.  I snapped a phone photo of the turkeys and hurried on my way, lest they saw me eavesdropping, and I ended up wearing cement boots in the bay.

Hannaford also has Tur-duck-hens!  They cost $50.

So as usual, the most ethical, albeit expensive, turkey option is available through Rosemont.  I think if you can make do with a smaller one, the Whole Foods or Trader Joe's options are nicely priced.  If you have some feedback on the actual taste of any of these turkeys, I'd like to hear it.

(Or maybe you're just going to leave it all to your family, like I am!)

Also, Sharon at Delicious Musings does a nice round-up of local products to use in your dinner, and A. at the Portland Food Map has a Thanksgiving Resource Guide, including wine advice.