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Sep 25, 2012 10:32 AM

Thanksgiving Bird

Interested in CH's opinions on the best place to pre-order a Thanksgiving turkey. Somewhere in St. Lawrence? Other opinions about this?

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  1. I've gotten some nice turkeys from Fresh From the Farm - they carry a heritage breed in addition to the regular one. They can't guarantee exact sizes though, so be prepared for something a few pounds heavier.

    1. I've had great success with Healthy Butcher birds in years past, and have one on order for this year. I've got a great source for organic, free range heritage Christmas birds, but they don't sell for T'giving.

      1. Gasparro's on Bloor have the best - order ahead, they sell out

        1. I've got birds from Royal Beef at Danforth/Woodbine. Your choice of organic or regular.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mariecollins

            Great and varied suggestions. My meat world is now considerably expanded from my usual St. Lawrence offerings. These suggestions will be useful for Thanksgiving and far beyond. Thank you sincerely.

          2. Loblaws. Or Metro. Maybe Sobeys. The frozen birds taste exactly the same as the free range, organically grown in tiny models of Graceland birds. Really, this "fresh turkey stuff" is a huge racket. Brining it properly is far more important than whether it was raised on organic acorns from Peru and given daily exercise with a workout coach.

            16 Replies
            1. re: evansl

              You'd sing a different tune after a few sketchy utility birds that taste like they hit the freezer with the Franklin expedition.Fed those to starving fellow grad students who'd happily eat about any cooked animal protein. Agree, though, that boutique birds are a bit of a conceit--and a fat profit center for shops flogging them. Never any complaints with quality air-chilled from Costco.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                Hmm you maybe talked me out of my usual expensive bird. Costco is pretty reliable. Gonna try this year.

              2. re: evansl

                Well, there is no doubt that frozen birds from the main supermarket chains, or Costco have huge appeal. But to suggest that they taste "exactly the same" is an interesting assertion. There are certainly ethical and health issues associated with how the supermarket birds are raised, but those don't concern the majority of people. However, to suggest that a steroid and antibiotic fed bird, who has never had to moved more than a few feet and has been genetically selected to grow a preposterously large breast in a minimal amount of time and then frozen, perhaps months ago, would taste the same as a heritage bird that spent it's much longer life feeding and growing naturally, hunting for much of its food and actually flying, just does not make any sense. Perhaps not everyone can taste the difference (although I find that hard to believe),and certainly some may not like the flavour and texture difference or find it good value. After all, Kraft dinner outsells homemade pasta and sauce 10 to 1 I am sure. But that doesn't mean those people who buy fresh, flavourful sustainably raised birds are the unwitting victims of a "huge racket".

                1. re: WillinTO

                  While I am sympathetic to your views, it helps to get the facts straight.
                  Steroids have been banned in Canada (for raising birds) for about 50 years now - not sure why you would think otherwise.
                  Indeed antibiotics are 'legal' (certain kinds) - but can be (are?) fed to heritage birds.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Organic meats have never had antibiotics.

                    1. re: crawfish

                      You are 'mostly' right.
                      Antibiotics prohibited since 2006.
                      Before that was more tricky as depended upon the 'Certifying Body' - but indeed they couldn't be 'injected' - can't find anything conclusive about feed though.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        So don't buy a 6 year old turkey :)

                    2. re: estufarian

                      Any thing can be fed to a heritage bird. The quesiton is what choices the farmer makes. Regarding antibiotics, this may prove interesting reading:

                      1. re: WillinTO

                        Don't recall any follow-up on the impending catastrophe. "Drug-free" chickens' viscera are full of bacteria harmful to humans that can contaminate the meat during processing. If you've ever gutted a chicken, you'd know it's easy to do. Then what?

                        Resistant bacteria are a huge problem everywhere, though it's sloppy processing that makes a bad situation far worse--regardless of the birds' provenance.

                        1. re: Kagemusha

                          CFIA is too busy or inept for a followup. Here is a Lancet report in 2009 indicating the problem of antibiotics was known to the Feds

                    3. re: WillinTO

                      Just to comment further on WillinTO's point about how the turkeys are grown - I was in my local butcher (Close to the Bone on Kingston Rd) a few weeks ago when someone was ordering a Thanksgiving Turkey and the butcher said that the turkeys were not going to be as big this year because of the hot summer. They source their turkeys from a farmer who grows them naturally and apparently because it was so hot the turkeys were not that keen on eating as much and fattening themselves up to be ready for thanksgiving dinner!

                      1. re: WillinTO

                        Do you hunt, WillinTO? Doubtful. A wild turkey is usually very lean and borderline tough--at best. Heritage birds that are substantially bigger and plumper should raise some suspicions about the soothing pitches of growers about bugs, sunshine and exercise programs for their stock. That unhealthy BMI we all love in turkeys isn't an accident. Funny how we drool over real deal Kobe beef but don't create as much demand for pure grass-fed beef that's never set foot in a feed lot. Quality air-chilled birds are vastly better than frozen--whatever the grade.

                        Besides, I stopped reading the link in your upthread post where your "farmers" were gassing about supporting local "foragers" who, in my experience, are often very rough on Ontario's woodlands in search of a fast buck. Ethical? Not.

                        1. re: WillinTO

                          "But that doesn't mean those people who buy fresh, flavourful sustainably raised birds are the unwitting victims of a "huge racket"."

                          Of course they're not(sarcasm alert)...I'd say "willing,' though.

                          1. re: Kagemusha

                            The number of 'fresh, flavorful sustainably raised birds' is staggeringly low. Certainly there many farms with outdoor flocks of a few hundred organic or naturally fed turkeys, but every one of them will be fed pellets of commercial feed, even organic, from major players such as Purina. Even if a small butcher shop is able to find a supplier who raises less than 50 turkeys, outdoors, the birds from that farm will devastate any protected growing area, and happily live off pellets and water. Ask a farmer.

                            (Would anyone be surprised to learn that Purina includes marigold extract in chicken feed, and there is no negative option?)

                        2. re: evansl

                          @ Evansl...A good brine is a fantastic idea BUT you are out of your mind thinking a frozen bird from a crappy factory and handled by kids in the back room of a grocery store is as good as a proper butcher. btw my Cumbrae birds have always been great (although I would like a less expensive alternative).