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Let’s talk turkey

It is almost Thanksgiving, and having local, fresh turkeys is the way to go. This year, I raised the traditional white turkeys. I have raised heritage in the past, but this year, partially due to my illness, I did only the whites. The whites grow faster and to me taste just as good, and despite the cost of raising them I want to keep a reasonable price so more people can afford a local bird. I have found that the whites graze just as well as the heritage and do very well in a free-range setting. Yes, turkeys graze. I let them out every morning after moving them to fresh pasture, and they look like cows eating the grass. They also eat bugs, weed seeds and anything shiny; be very careful if you get close with earrings on, especially those diamonds. The whites are also less flighty and nervous, so they gain weight quickly. Our customers are asking many more questions about how they are raised and what they are fed, and I am happy to tell them they are fed organic grains and graze on organic pastures. It is really exciting to have people more engaged with their food and food sources. I had one customer ask if she could visit her turkey. I told her sure. We are all sold out this year, but I do believe Farmer Johns in Dublin still has turkeys.

Did you hear?

I am feeling very optimistic about consumers becoming educated and more aware of where there food is coming from, but I can’t help feeling overwhelmed by the larger picture. According to a recent article in the New York Times, a Chinese company recently bought Smithfield Foods, a major U.S. pork producer, for $4.7 billion dollars! The Chinese produce and consume half of the world’s pigs. Smithfield’s farms are, on average, raising 2,000 pigs in confinement. I think I would rather have one pork chop from a local free range setting, than a whole pig from Smithfield’s farms. “On Becoming China’s Farm Team” by Mark Bittman is quite a good op-ed article I would recommend reading.

Farm food life

Peterborough’s own Kim Peck has a beautiful new book coming out this month featuring 13 local farms. Yes, Sunnyfield is one. This book would make an excellent holiday gift and, having worked a lot with Kimberly, the book is coming from her heart. She has spent a lot of time at local farms and has produced a great local resource, as well as some amazing photos. The local farm movement has needed a lot of education and information to help it along, and Kim has done a lot for our local area with this new book, “Farm. Food. Life: Photographs & Recipes Inspired by Local Farms.” She has also included recipes using at least one ingredient from each farm. I highly recommend one for yourself and one for someone you love.

Ruth Holmes is one of the principal farmers at Sunnyfield Farm, a nonprofit community farm in Peterborough.

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