You can serve a turkey from this source and know exactly where it came from and how it was raised.
Very little has redeemed my area of Connecticut in terms of culinary appeal since I moved there from Manhattan last year. But a small grocery store often referenced as “where Martha Stewart shops” is the brightest, forward-thinking food spot — and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get acquainted.
In 2020, the entertaining maven raised feathers when she posted on Instagram that her Thanksgiving bird was “fresh killed.” In the same post, she revealed where she orders her personal Thanksgiving turkey from (when she doesn't raise it herself) — Mike’s Organic, where she can count on complete transparency about where that freshly offed bird came from and how it was raised.
“One of the reasons the turkeys are so special is that they are pasture-raised,” Mike tells me. “A lot of people don’t know that term, which means living their lives out on the grass as nature intended. They are never in a barn, and they are only fed local, non-GMO grain. It’s very hard to find a turkey raised this way as the overwhelming majority of turkeys raised in America never see the light of day or leave the barn.”
He describes the broad-breasted white turkeys as super juicy with tons of white meat and zero additives, antibiotics, hormones, or preservatives. Mike has sourced the birds from the 500-acre Autumn’s Harvest Farm in New York’s Finger Lakes for the last six years. I don’t think I’ve ever visited Mike’s Organic without seeing Mike on the property, and he can speak to each product this thoroughly after visiting hundreds of farms throughout 14 years in business (first popping up at markets and opening the brick and mortar in April). As always, he says I should visit to meet the farmers, Sarah and Tim Hawes, who also raise grass-fed cows.
“The farmers’ whole mission is to farm in a way that’s good for the animal and the environment,” Mike adds. “They are also AWA (animal welfare approved), which is the highest standard of care a farmer can take.”
The thing about shopping at Mike’s Organic is that I don’t have to make the drive to meet the farmers. Mike hosts weekend events for interaction between customers, animals, and the humans raising them — and all ages love it. I have met a chicken farmer and bought their multi-colored eggs onsite; I’ve seen sheep sheared; I’m waiting to meet twin calves whose visit was rained out; and I missed a beekeeper with bees and honey. There is an opportunity to engage directly with the people providing the products every weekend.
“It's great to write ‘organic tomatoes’ on a box, but to be able to not just tell people but show people where their food comes from and put a face behind a product is the basis of our business,” Mike explains. “To me, that is one of the really important things in food that's been lost. We're so distanced from our food. We're lucky to know what country it comes from, let alone a farmer's name or how they're growing things, so the weekend events are really about establishing that connection in really fun, creative, educational ways.”
While I haven’t seen Martha at these events yet, we can both relate to the general public’s feedback about killing animals for consumption. When I share my excitement after an event at Mike’s Organic, even meat eaters can be uncomfortable at the thought of bringing kids to meet farm animals that may become their food, much like the comments on Martha’s “fresh killed” turkey post are likely from people who eat turkey every Thanksgiving, they just don’t reference killing it. Mike has developed a lot of perspective on that.
“If you are going to eat meat, being distanced from it is not helping you make better choices about what you're putting in your body, supporting a better food system, or learning about your food,” he says, acknowledging that he gained more appreciation for animals after experience butchering. “Embrace the fact that you're making that decision, and you're going to respect the food when it gets on your plate, understand the value of it, and not want to waste it.”
Autumn’s Harvest Farm turkeys are still available to order from Mike’s Organic in four size ranges, from 11 to 24 pounds, at about $7.99 per pound. And you can pay your respect by preventing any waste with our recipes for leftover turkey.
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