TRAVERSE CITY — Who wouldn't want to build a Thanksgiving feast around a 32-pound factory-raised turkey that bastes itself in juices injected into its flesh after it was killed?
Well, it turns out quite a few people have begun looking for alternatives to the traditional frozen, bowling balls of meat that come from large production farms.
Each year Thanksgiving cooks are looking more and more to local and regional farms for fresh, unfrozen turkeys that have been raised by the farmer down the road rather than the corporation three states away.
It's a trend that Rob Hentschel, manager of Roy's General Store, has watched firsthand with increased demand for the fresh Amish-raised turkeys he sells.
Orders for turkeys sold through the store have increased by about 10 percent each year recently, Hentschel said.
Stuart Kunkle and Genevieve Pfisterer stood Wednesday morning inside the turkey pen at their farm, Morganic Farm, where they raise a variety of animals, including turkeys, the old way.
"The meat is more flavorful," Kunkle said of the 16 turkeys on his farm near Kingsley. "These are definitely a more athletic bird."
The heritage breed birds Kunkle chose to raise this year are smaller than the traditional Broadbreasted White turkeys that are common in grocery store freezers. In fact, they are a few steps closer to wild turkeys than those typically in the food supply in the U.S., he said.
Kunkle's turkeys roam freely in a small pasture on the 30-acre farm. They've already sold eight of the 16 turkeys they raised.
"They're more sort of like the original turkey," Pfisterer said. "They'll be more like a family size."
And Kunkle's not the only one who has been raising turkeys to sell fresh locally.