Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 16, 2013

Agriculture Forum: Reasons to choose a locally grown turkey

TRAVERSE CITY — Thanksgiving is one of America’s most anticipated holidays.

There’s a chill in the air, and people come together to celebrate around food, family, and community. So why not help support your regional “family” by choosing a local pasture-raised turkey?

There are multiple benefits to purchasing locally grown or raised food and pastured turkey in particular. First, pasture-raised turkey is nutritious. Turkeys raised on pasture eat grass, insects and worms, which can improve meat quality. It is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and can help lower the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio, which with the typical American diet has increased far beyond the recommended 4:1 or lower ratio.

With pasture-raised turkey you can and should go back for seconds. Second, purchasing a locally raised turkey offers economic benefits to the region. It increases employment opportunities and increases the amount and speed at which dollars circulate throughout the local economy, which leads to a more resilient region. Third, it is better for the environment. Purchasing a turkey that was raised in our region versus out of state reduces the amount of energy and cost of transportation. Fourth, it offers socioeconomic benefits. Putting money into the pocket of local farm families encourages the future of farming in our region and builds community by encouraging consumers to develop stronger connections with the land and their farming neighbors.

Finally, buying local food keeps our taxes low. Yes it’s true. According to the American Farmland Trust, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services as compared to residential development.

As if these aren’t enough reasons to purchase a local turkey this Thanksgiving, the here’s another: it tastes better!

While there are several turkey producers in northwest Michigan, two of the most notable turkey farms are Biehls and Duerksen. Both can be purchased at grocery stores throughout northern Michigan. With increasing interest in locally-grown food, it is best to call your local grocery store or market now to reserve a bird.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Dr. Rob Sirrine is a Community Food Systems Educator with Michigan State University Extension and an affiliate of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.



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