Sustainable Blog

Talking Turkey

Deciphering sustainable turkey options

[Wild Turkey by Mark Sardella](http://www.flickr.com/photos/11125702@N00/453468027/)

Turkey is king at the Thanksgiving table. It is the main dish that represents the entire holiday. Because we are concerned with the connection between food and fuel here at Sustainable America, we have tried to explain the labeling of your options in order to help you make the most informed decision about your holiday bird. That may mean very different things in different parts of the country, and we certainly understand that some options are more expensive and may not work for every budget. Choosing a locally-raised turkey is a good start in most cases!

The turkey is one part of the Thanksgiving feast where going local is likely to require a bit more forethought, but it’s well worth it. There are many delicious alternatives to the supermarket turkey that has often traveled far from its factory farm to your table.

For example, if you want a historically accurate Thanksgiving, heritage turkeys are closer to what our forefathers actually ate on Thanksgiving. These birds are descended from early domesticated turkeys and have leaner bodies and better flavor. They also tend to be free-range, allowed to grow to a healthy size and maturity, and typically come from small farms with sustainable practices. Heritage turkeys are more expensive than the average supermarket bird, and demand for them at Thanksgiving is high, so plan ahead! Local Harvest is a great resource for finding any local ingredient, but they have a special turkey page up right now that allows you to enter your zip code and find turkeys from within 100 miles. From heritage turkeys to local chickens, there are lots of ways to celebrate a tasty, local choice. Our graphic below outlines some of the options available for your holiday bird!

The main idea here is that mindful eating does require research, and what better time to practice mindful eating than a holiday based upon giving thanks? Having a relationship with your local farmer can give you a better idea of what goes into your food, and build a stronger connection to your community.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.