Are You Ready for Turkey Day?

Free-range turkeys can roam throughout the farmland, increasing their health, diet, and overall quality of life compared to factory-raised turkeys.

Last year, Dr. Fisher, one of my professors at Meredith College, was describing to her students her annual turkey day traditions, one of which included reserving a free-range heritage turkey. Since I did not grow up in this area, I have never heard of reserving a turkey at a local farm. In fact, I thought that all Thanksgiving Day turkeys were always frozen, wrapped in white plastic and made from Butterball brand! That is all I have ever seen in my lifetime, so I was especially intrigued to look further into purchasing a free-range heritage turkey. Here is what I have found, and I hope you consider purchasing a free-range turkey for your holidays this year. You’ll get richer flavor, better nutrition, and the satisfaction of supporting a local poultry farmer!

Happy heritage turkey farmers!

Nutrition Know-How: Heritage versus Factory Farmed Turkeys

  • Pasture raised turkeys are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed turkeys that are raised in factory farms. They are also much lower in omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory.
  • Pasture-raised turkeys do no require antibiotics and hormones necessary to raise turkeys until the crowded conditions of factory farms. This essentially keeps the meat cleaner and safer for you to eat.
  • Factory farm turkeys tend to be dry and tasteless, so they’re often injected with a saline solution and additives to enhance their overall taste.
  • Turkeys processed by farmers instead of large processing facilities are much less likely to be exposed to contaminated and harmful bacteria, reducing your risk of food-bourne illness.
  • Turkeys are a great source of protein, Vitamin B6, Selenium, Zinc, and Phosphorus. It is best to receive these beneficial nutrients in a farm-raised turkey!

The classic roasted turkey is always a favorite, however there are many ways to prepare your turkey for your guests!

Quick and Easy Turkey Recipes:
Have leftover turkey during the holidays? Or, are you looking to prepare a new turkey dish for your friends and family this year? Look no further! Here are four delicious recipes that will tantalize your taste buds!
  1. Asian Turkey Cole Slaw- mix shredded turkey into your favorite slaw mix. Toss with tahini dressing and sesame vinaigrette, then add green onions and toasted slivered almonds for a zesty crunch.
  2. Turkey Avocado Wrap- on a whole grain wrap, spread cranberry mustard. Add shredded napa cabbage, sliced avocado, shredded turkey meat, and sliced strips of red bell pepper. Roll up the wrap and enjoy!
  3. Turkey Chili- mix up your favorite batch of chili. In the last five minutes of cooking, toss in a hearty helping of chopped cooked turkey meat. Top with a dollop of tangy greek yogurt and chopped green onions. Add a pinch of cayenne or red chili pepper for extra spice, and fresh cilantro for color and scent.
  4. Cubed Turkey on Salads- top your salads with leftover turkey and add your favorite seasonal ingredients, such as diced pears, apples, dried cranberries and toasted pecans (I have tried this before and it is not only healthy, but delicious!)
Have you purchased a free-range heritage turkey before for the holidays? Do you have a unique turkey recipe that you prepare for your friends and family? If so, share your thoughts here! 
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