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The view from the farm: local turkeys for Thanksgiving, food labels and pricing trends 

Agriculture

1. Fall things

It is time to reserve your local Thanksgiving turkey. I must say that when looking through localharvest.org there seems to be a dizzying array of new farms around raising local turkeys. It is wonderful to see such an abundance of possibilities for Thanksgiving Day.

There are the standard large-breasted white turkeys, the many different heritage breed turkeys, the grass raised, the beer fed, the free-range bird, the humane­raised options and the organic turkey.

If I did not raise my own Thanksgiving turkey, I would certainly take time to do some exploring of the options. This year at Sunnyfield Farm due to spring predator problems, we do not have any of the 50 heritage breed turkeys that we had planned on. To have heritage breed turkeys for Thanksgiving you need to find a source very early in the spring because they sell out quickly. Heritage breeds grow a lot slower so they must be started long before the broad-breasted white.

We had 50 Narragansett babies one night, but they were all taken out by a mink, despite some electrified fencing which had always worked in the past. This year, we only have the 50 back up broad-breasted whites. We do raise them on grass with organic grain, behind electronet for predator protection.

2. Important information

California has Proposition 37 on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election. It would make it a requirement to label any food containing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. I know that I have in the past written in regards to Genetically Modified foods. I do not believe genetically modified organisms should be in our food or in our environment, and GMOs are the main reason I buy organic food for myself and my animals.

Any food for humans or animals that is not certified organic may have GMOs in them. They are now saying that there have been cases where it was also found in organic due to contamination, possibly in the field. Even if you do not feel worried about GMOs, I think it is still important to be in support of this proposition.

I agree with Michael Pollan’s comment in a recent article, “What is at stake this time around is not just the fate of genetically modified crops but the public’s confidence in the industrial food chain.” It is about being allowed to know what is in your food, being allowed to have a choice about what you eat. Isn’t that what’s important?

3. Staying the course

I keep hearing about food prices on the rise. I admit that most of what I eat comes from Sunnyfield Farm so I don’t feel the full impact of rising prices, yet.

The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers this fall reported that corn and soybeans are not only expensive, but difficult to find and, with no firm forecasts for the new season, producers are looking at limited availability for alternative feed sources and rapidly increasing prices. Some organic operations are reportedly experiencing a decrease in financial support from lenders, as well as a lack of continued interest in their operations, due to rising costs of feed.

Now is not the time to jump ship at your local farm.

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

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