Putting a Michigan turkey on your table for Thanksgiving

Consumers may need to plan ahead to get a fresh Michigan turkey for their holiday table.

Tom Otto’s Turkey Farm in Middleville, Michigan will process over 12,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving 2014. The farm raises turkeys for sale through the store at their farm as well as in grocery stores, food co-ops and specialty retailers in Lansing and throughout West Michigan. Customers purchasing a fresh – not frozen – turkey from the farm wait in line Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving from 8 a.m.– 6 p.m. Those who do not want to wait can pre-order their turkey from some of their retailers, such as Heffron Farms, Harvest Health Foods, and the East Lansing Food Co-Op.

In Ann Arbor, the People’s Food Co-Op starts taking orders for local Amish-raised turkey starting November 3. Customers need to know the size of the turkey they will need. The Co-Op’s customer services representative suggests using a guide of 1.5 pounds of turkey for every person you are serving. This figure also accounts for leftovers, which many feel are one of the best reasons to prepare such a time-consuming meal. Michigan State University Extension nutrition experts can also help you keep and use your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Another way to put a Michigan turkey on your table is to obtain a wild turkey hunting license from the Michigan DNR and harvest the animal yourself. Wild turkey has a pleasant flavor and families can take pride in carrying out a tradition similar to how our ancestors celebrated Thanksgiving. MSU Extension also has resources on how to prepare a wild turkey.

According to the Michigan Agriculture Council, Michigan ranks fifteenth in the nation for turkey production. The largest turkey production facility in in Michigan is Michigan Turkey Producers. Michigan Turkey Producers is a farmer owned cooperative based in Grand Rapids with farms in Kent, Ottawa, and Allegan Counties. Michigan Turkey Producers processes over 5 million birds each year for lunchmeat and ready to cook turkey breasts. You can find Michigan Turkey Producers meats at many major retail grocery stores and on menus in restaurants and schools as they are a major foodservice industry supplier.

MSU Extension encourages consumers to purchase locally sourced ingredients for Thanksgiving. This investment will help keep money in our state and could help farms and food businesses expand their operation and staff. Visit the Michigan Agriculture Council’s guide for more Thanksgiving ideas.

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