Thanksgiving Food

The rolls are made, although they’re an unequivocal failure. I just couldn’t get them to rise. They’re hard, brown little things, and most of them will land in my compost pile, which frankly is ok by me.

The turkey is on the counter, covered in cling wrap. A friend assures me that non-factory-produced turkey can be left out overnight because it doesn’t have the bacteria that turkeys raised in stiflingly close quarters have. My turkey’s liver and heart and neck and gizzard have been boiled with aromatics and herbs to make a broth, and those organs (except perhaps for the gizzard, which has a surprising and to my mouth most unpleasant texture) will be incorporated into tomorrow’s gravy.

The herbs I’ll mix with butter and garlic to rub into the turkey tomorrow are painstakingly picked and chopped. I had to buy expensive oregano and thyme from the grocery store to get fresh (“fresh” — probably shipped cross-country three weeks ago). The rosemary I stepped barefoot out into my backyard at 10:00 p.m. to pick. Note to self: I’d like to grow some thyme. Plucking tablespoonsful of little leaves from these plants tonight (the thyme in particular) makes me really appreciate the herbs, which I’ve so often been content to sprinkle from a costly little glass jar. I spent nearly an hour tonight preparing the herbs for the herb butter.

Good food is an investment, and it should be. We comparison shop to find the cheapest food we can without regard to the fact that it’s not just some throwaway thing — it’s our sustenance, one of the very few things without which we cannot actually survive. You are what you eat. This is not to say that expense for its own sake is worthwhile. But to drink milk that separates into cream and not-cream (what is the name for the not-cream?), to eat an animal that was raised in a way that allows that animal to grow more or less as it would in nature — these things are increasingly important to me, and worth more money. If the body is a temple, you shouldn’t fill it with shit.

It’s hard to pay four or five bucks a pound for turkey when Kroger has it for $0.79 a pound. What do I gain from doing this? Well, there’s a sense of eating more ethically. I’m eating a bird that has lived roughly as a bird of its type should (compared to a bird crammed with a dozen others in a tiny cage). I’m also supporting a local economy. I have spoken face-to-face with the person who raised, killed, processed, and sold me this turkey. The people I bought this bird from appreciate my individual contribution. Butterball really could not care less whether I buy their bird or not.

I wish more of my Thanksgiving lunch was created from local food. Much of it is, but I’ll do better next year. I’ll have aromatics and more herbs from my own garden at least. I may not ever raise turkeys, but I’m thinking I might have some chickens in the not-too-distant future. And surely I can grow my own potatoes (we’ve already got some started). In the mean time, I’m thankful to have local farmers to fill in the substantial gaps.

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Food

  1. Oh sure, blame me for your bacteria infested turkey!

    Actually, if you talk to the old timers around here, they’ll tell you how a chicken was butchered one day, left out (no refrigerator) over night to “relax”, and cooked the next day.

    The bacteria issues with store bought turkey and chicken really come from the processing. The birds, after butchering & gutting are left in vats to cool. Because the gutting process is often automated or done in a rushed fashion (they’ve gotta meet their quota!), there is fecal material spilled on the carcass. This ends up in the cooling vat to soak into the chicken. Yum. In addition, many of the really lethal, antibiotic-resistant bacteria breed in the unhealthy guts of these animals and end up in the same vat. Appetizing, isn’t it.

    When I gut our birds, I rarely spill the intestines. On the odd occasion I do, I catch the spill with a paper towel. The birds are rinsed well in the empty sink before cooling in the neighboring sink. Of course, I’m much slower than the processors! And I care because I’m feeding this chicken to my family.

    Keep it up Daryl! You’re doing very well!

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