Gobbling Pastured Turkeys

Around me in the Foodie Mecca (the San Francisco Bay Area) many are choosing to take the origins of their food back to the land. Slow Food, gourmet, artisan, food as diety, Michael Pollanism—whatever you want to call this renewed passion for connecting to the way food used to arrive on our plates, this cultural trend goes by many names. And it is all one and the same for me, despite what zealots of one strain or the other might rebut.

Heading into Thanksgiving week I am thankful for having had the chance to hear Bill and Nicollete Niman speak at Market Hall. They are champions with a vision to change the way animals are raised and treated in the US. Niman is a rancher and founder of Niman Ranch. His wife Nicolette is an attorney, rancher and author of The Righteous Porkchop.

Since severing his Niman Ranch association, Bill and Nicolette are enthusiastically answering the call of the pasture, with pastured turkeys. It is a vision I can endorse and patronize. From their limited supply of turkeys, I am one of the lucky few, this year.


On the pages swelling open before me in the November issue of Martha Stewart’s Living is a lush article entitled “Land of Plenty” about Stone Barns, a New York Center for Food and Agriculture located 25 miles outside of New York City.

The article chronicles a potluck Thanksgiving Dinner which derived all its ingredients from the farm. Friends, family, babies, corn, kale crisps, Dumpling Squash with Cream and Sage, gourds and beautiful tables, the sensuality of going back to the land and reconnecting with community is almost overbearing (but that’s typical of the publication). Photographs and recipes abound so you too can choose to make your Thanksgiving celebrations the same caliber of affair.

But there is a continual cultural disconnect between those who have the motivation and the means on how to actually head down the path of consuming pastured meat- be it poultry, pork or anything else. Where do you find it if you don't live close to the Bay Area, the Big Apple or other urban centers of culinary innovation taking part in the movement? There seems to be something like $2-5 a pound difference between one of the Nimans’ Broad Breasted White turkeys (the lower end turkey they offer) vs. what you might find or even be given by a grocery store chain like Safeway for being a high volume customer!

Attendees were treated to a serving of the Nimans’ new Heritage Bourbon Red turkey. The taste of real turkey, that lived well and that was raised with care and humane concerns is on my tongue. It is delicious and unlike any turkey I’ve had before.

There is a fantastic resource on the web designed to help you get you closer to your meat and small family farmer. It's Eatwild.com. Select your state and the wealth of offerings will astound you.

To read more from Nicolette, here is her recent piece in the Atlantic Monthly

Possibly also of interest: A tech entrepreneur turned Heritage turkey farmer.

Lead photo: I thought the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song Woodstock was an appropriate frame of reference for this piece. My adaptation (perversion) is shown here to part of the original poster. Are we getting back to the land? Are we setting the souls of those few humanely farmed turkeys free? This movement over food, similiar to the cultural revolution that came together at Yasgur's farm, is yet another Aquarian Exposition.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts