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YES!  YES! and YES!  If you have never tasted a free range turkey this year is the time to try one!  I have been ordering turkeys from our local Duerksen Turkey Farm in Mancelona, Michigan for the last 6 years and the difference is not only in the humane practices they use to raise the turkeys but the taste is AMAZING!

Pasture raised is best according to Duerksen Turkey Farm because, “Omega-3 is one of the two essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by our bodies but are required for good health. Omega-3 fatty acid is found in green leaf vegetables and grass. ..Omega-6 fatty acid is found in grains such as soy beans and corn. Both are essential for our health.”

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At Duerksen Turkey Farm, “Our turkeys spend their lives in wide open spaces. They dine on tender green grass and breathe fresh country air, while chasing after a delicious meal of a variety of insects and grasshoppers. They are not subject to crowding, toxic ammonia fumes, or inhumane practices.”

The above accounts from my local turkey farm are similar to the hundreds of other free range turkey farms across the country.

Some people may be afraid to buy a pasture raised bird because they have grown up accustomed to eating their Butterball and Purdue turkeys since they were a child.  Others may complain that $3.99 a pound for an organic turkey is too much.  I would argue isn’t your health worth a couple dollars more a pound?  Plus, you know where your food is coming from.

Conventional turkeys sold by giant supermarket chains all across the nation are often raised in crowded CAFO (confined animal farming operations) conditions. These conventional turkeys are often caged with limited range of movement and kept indoors. They are fed hormones and antibiotics, which makes them retain water and artificially increases their weight. Antibiotics in the poultry business are given to guard against the many illnesses confined birds are susceptible to during their lives in crowded, unsanitary conditions, but also serve the purpose of water retention, raising the weight of the bird by as much as 15 percent and cutting a week or more off of the growing (and feeding) time. Finally, the finished, packaged turkeys are also often injected with water, salt and preservatives.

Yuck!  I don’t want my family eating a conventional bird!  DO YOU?

The boys and I are driving to the turkey farm this weekend to pick up our 22-24 lb turkey and I’m excited for the boys to see where the turkeys were pasture raised.  Typically we meet the owners at a drop off location in our town every year to pick up our turkey.  This year we decided it would be fun to take a field trip to the turkey farm instead.

Finally, free range turkeys are just as simple to prepare as conventional birds with the “pop-up” timers.  LOL!

This is straight from the Cooking Tips on Duerksen Turkey Farm’s website, “Put away your timer and get a good meat thermometer. Be prepared to use it! Turn down the heat; our experience and advice is LOW and SLOW. Keep covered to preserve the moisture. Ease up on seasonings and sauces. Grass fed turkeys should be seasoned delicately so as not to mask or compromise the true flavor. Allow turkey to rest 30 minutes before serving.” 

Estimated Cooking Times:
(based on 325 oven)

12-14 lbs – 2 ¼ to 3 hours
15-17 lbs – 3 to 3 ½ hours
18-20 lbs – 3 ½ to 4 hours
21-22 lbs – 4 to 4 ½ hours
23-24 lbs – 4 ½ to 5 hours
25-27 lbs – 5 ½ to 6 hours

If stuffed, add 30 minutes to cooking time. Suggested meat thermometer temperature should reach 160-165 degrees internally.

Now please don’t be intimidated by pasture raised turkeys and do yourself and your family a favor this year and try a free range turkey!  The taste is truly worth it!  I promise!

Enjoy!

~Erika

 

 

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