Sunday, November 21, 2010

The true cost of Thanksgiving

How can that be, we’ll pay $4.49/lb for frozen boneless skinless chicken breast from a factory farm but not pay $3/lb for a fresh heritage turkey? When did we decide that turkeys were cheaper to raise or that it was an inferior meat we’d only pay $.59/lb for???

It takes at least 14 weeks to get that huge bowling ball turkey raised yet it takes 6-8 weeks to raise a chicken for the dinner table. For our birds it is 20 weeks and 10, but you get the idea. That right there tells you the cost is higher per bird to feed and labor to care for. There is the opportunity cost to factor in that you could raise 3 times as many chickens in the time you can raise turkeys because they take longer and are bigger. Turkeys also are harder to raise because they have different instincts and yes are a little on the slower side. They try to take my rings all the time, and being taller I have to maneuver differently. They are more hassle.

If you buy a turkey in the off season you’ll be paying $1.99-$2.49 a pound, similar to that of whole chickens only the turkey is frozen where the chicken would probably be fresh. The main reason I think we take for granted the cost of our turkey meat is because we get it free when we purchase $100 worth of other stuff. That’s right, who hasn’t seen the ads in the paper or the signs at the store “Turkey $.99/lb; $.19/lb with the purchase of $100 worth of groceries” or a flat out free turkey with that purchase. You aren’t really getting the turkey free, grocery stores have done a wonderful job of making you pay for everything without you knowing it. And loss leaders aren’t even as great a deal as they once were. If you bought your eggs at $.19 a dozen, that’s a great deal at a loss to the grocery store, if you just buy the eggs. But they know that most people will also pick up the boneless skinless chicken breast, or maybe the $15 vitamins, maybe you splurge on ice cream, yea you paid full price for the eggs in the end when you walk out with $50 worth of stuff. Same goes for Thanksgiving, you paid for your turkey when you bought 2 things of stuffing instead of one, you bought 4 pie crusts and 2 big cans of pumpkin, and just to make sure you hit that $100 mark you bought that weekly celebrity gossip magazine in the checkout line. Yea, we all paid for our turkeys.

We really get what we paid for too. These quick growing all white meat, double breasted behemoth turkeys lack flavor and texture. We’ve all had that breast meat that is lacking texture, it turns to mush and it was so dry we gravied it up so now it is a chewy, salty, gravy-flavored mush. I don’t think that’s what Ben Franklin had in mind when he wanted the turkey to be our national bird. He’d be so disappointed with what graces our tables anymore.

I’m so excited we are offering the ability to have a heritage turkey to our patrons this year. I hope to continue the tradition and offer more tasty poultry products in the future.

Speaking of turkey, I have to go decide what’s for dinner.

I’m thinkin’ turkey meatballs,

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