Thursday, August 20, 2009

Locavores Rejoice!

Two huge bits of news...

First, I don't know if everyone saw the plug I made for the Monroe County Farmers Market back when I was doing the Penny Pinching Pantry Raid. I've been receiving fresh produce and meat and eggs all summer once a week, and I can't be more pleased with the products. They deliver to Charleston once a week for a $5 fee. The product prices aren't too bad compared to Krogers, where I usually shop. The meat is almost exclusively pasture-raised or free range and hormone/antibiotic free. And the produce is mostly organic. (They tell you what products are not.) I could go on and on about the other reasons to get your stuff at a Farmer's Market, like how eating local is more "green" and how its important to support the local economy.

Anyway, onto the news... Today at the pick-up in Charleston, the crew from the tv show, "The Naked Chef" is going to be there to see how the market's delivery service works and interview the people who utilize it. I don't know if Jamie Oliver is going to be there, but I am giddy with excitement that he possibly could be. AND, the show is wanting to do a US version of "The Naked Chef" and they are going to be buying their produce from the Monroe County Farmers Market for the next two months!!!!

I can't say enough about how good the quality of the food is. Eggs--awesome! Salad greens--fabulous!! (And they stay "good" for longer since they are really fresh. I kept a zip lock bag of them in my fridge for well over 2 weeks.) Pork sausage--exquiste!! Anyway, if you want in and you are in the Charleston area, here's the link:

Now, there's nothing wrong with other farmers markets--I still shop at the Capital Market. And, if you already have a farmers market that you use, by all means, keep it up. You know, you can't beat the taste of an almost-too ripe tomato that was picked this morning with a little salt.

Second bit of news, after several phone calls, I found a breeder of heritage turkeys in West Virginia!

Heritage turkeys are the ones that were here when the pilgrims came. What they sell in the grocery store, well, wasn't. The one's they sell in the grocery store are "broad-breasted whites," which have been genetically engineered to be, um, more profitable. They are fully mature in as little as 18 weeks. They have substantially more breast meat, as with keeping with the demands of the American consumer. Their legs are shorter, and their breasts are so large, that if allowed to mature longer than 18 weeks, they wouldn't be able to stand up or walk. Also, because of their physique, they can't reproduce naturally--they can't "do" it. So, all the turkeys that you buy in the store are here because of artificial insemination and if allowed to live past Thanksgiving, would be immobile.

Heritage turkeys are coming back into fashion a bit, with all the publicity of the local food movement, and all. Problem was, I couldn't find a breeder nearby. A quick search on the internet produced several hits of breeders selling them ... 600 miles away. Some required local pick up, and some would fed ex your turkey to you, for a pretty penny--not an option. Finally, after a call to the WV Department of Agriculture, and being transferred to three different offices, and a voicemail later, I found a breeder in Phillippi, White Oak Ridge Farm. They raise only Bronze breeds, their smallest turkeys are around 12 pounds, and last year, they sold them for $2.59 to 2.69 a pound. All are free-range, hormone and antibiotic free. And, I imagine, whatever birds they don't sell, get to "get it on." Yippee! (By the way, the phone number is 304-457-1085, and they begin taking orders for Thanksgiving in September.)

Based on what I've read, cooking a heritage turkey is a little different than a Butterball. There is more dark meat, and moisture content of the meat is much greater. So you don't need to engage in moisture-preserving tricks like brining, bags or obsessive basting. I'm told that heritage turkeys are much more flavorful than standard turkeys, as well as healthier--they have a more natural diet of grass and bugs, which gives them their flavor and makes them lower in saturated fat. Saturated fat fears aside, I found a recipe for a rub for a heritage turkey made from butter, all natural maple syrup and rosemary. I can't wait to cook this bird. Tasty!

Anyway, hopefully I get to meet Jamie Oliver this evening, but I'm not holding my breath. It's probably best I don't since I'll probably act like and idiot and stutter and stammer around like a crazy groupie. And, stay tuned for the turkey wrap-up after Thanksgiving. My family will be the final judge on taste, but I still feel good about buying it, no matter what.

No comments: