November 19, 2013

Fresh Maine turkeys gobbled up

Some local suppliers have sold out and Butterball has reduced its supply, but there are other non-frozen options for Thanksgiving.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

Turkeys roam Monday at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport. Wolfe’s Neck has already taken Thanksgiving orders for all of its roughly 300 free-range birds, which will be processed next week. The birds sell for $4.50 a pound, or $72 for a 16-pounder.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The demand for fresh organic turkeys like this one at Wolfe’s Neck Farm has grown along with consumer preferences for all manner of organic food products.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

Both grocery chains had low-cost alternatives. At Hannaford, frozen Marval turkeys were selling for 49 cents a pound. And at Shaw’s, frozen Honeysuckle White turkeys were selling for the same price. That’s $7.84 for a 16-pounder.

At Whole Foods in Portland, fresh turkeys from Jaindl Farms in Pennsylvania were selling for $2.50 per pound. Barbara Gulino, marketing team leader for the store, said she couldn’t say how many turkeys have been sold, but she’s “pleased with our holiday sales so far.”

In addition to fresh turkeys, Whole Foods sells seasoned, brined, ready-to-cook birds and fully cooked turkeys that only have to be warmed up.

There are many options for people in Greater Portland, but with Thanksgiving just nine days away, some may have to wait until next year for a locally raised turkey.

Herring, at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, said it’s not uncommon for his farm to take orders for turkeys months in advance.

Kathy Gunst, a nationally known cookbook author who lives in South Berwick, said it’s worth the wait.

“There is nothing like it,” she said. “It hasn’t been frozen or shipped or flown. You’re getting a fresh-killed bird that’s just a few days old. That’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.”

Gunst said she understands that not everyone can afford fresh and local turkeys.

“But if you only eat turkey once a year,” she said, “isn’t it worth it to support a local farmer?”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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