By Karen Fredrickson
Photographed by Karen Pearson
As Thanksgiving approaches, the traditional turkey dinner calls, and choosing a bird for the table can be a positive exercise in conscious shopping. Many consumers have concerns about the antibiotics and chemicals found in conventionally raised turkeys and seek out organic alternatives.
“When you buy an organic turkey, you are getting a healthier bird,” says Lauren Graf, MS, RD and Clinical Dietician at Montefiore Medical Center. “Organic turkeys are fed a healthier diet that is free of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones. Organic turkeys are also at less risk for salmonella.”
Many farms in the Hudson Valley are proponents of organic and/or free-range turkey farming, providing area residents with healthier options for the holiday. Here are a few that we recommend:
Four Winds Farm is a Hudson Valley certified organic farm located in Gardiner. The farm sits on 24 acres, with four acres devoted to growing vegetables and the remaining 20 used for raising meat and poultry, including turkeys.
“We started out raising turkeys for ourselves and selling a few to others,” said Jay Armour, who has been a farmer there for 25 years. “When we realized how good they were, and our friends realized how good they were, well, we continued.”
Four Winds uses natural fertilizer from their cows and poultry to provide them with manure compost. They never use a plow or rototiller.
“We also believe that our way of farming is better for the earth because we are less dependent on energy- and capital-consuming tractors and equipment,” Four Winds says on their website.
The turkeys they raise are all certified organic and fed with organic feed from Cold Springs Farm. “We use organic feed because it is the only way we can be sure the feed doesn’t have any GMO [genetically modified organism] products in it,” Armour said. GMO corn and soy seed allow farmers to use more herbicides, leading to more herbicide residue ending up in the feed the animals eat, and those chemicals end up in the bodies of the people who consume them.
“Most people buy our turkeys because they taste so much better than the fatty birds that are commercially produced,” Armour stated.
For more information, visit Four Winds Farm’s Facebook or call 845.255.3088.
Quattro’s Poulty & Game Farm is located in Pleasant Valley. The family has been raising turkeys since the 1940s and has three types available—domestic, wild and heritage (also known as Bourbon Reds).
Their poultry is raised without unnecessary substances. “Our birds get absolutely no hormones, chemicals or antibiotics,” Joyce Quattro said. “Our feed is not organic feed; it does not, however, come from a big commercial farm. We get our feed from farms in upstate New York and Connecticut. Because we deal with small growers, we are able to request custom feed from them. Our birds are raised with much care and we are feeding our birds non-GMO feed.”
Part of the Quattros’ philosophy is that they can raise their birds in a healthy manner. By continuing the same farming traditions they used from the very beginning, they also continue the same healthy growing practices that the farm has always used.
An important aspect of Quattro’s Farm is that they process the birds on site rather than sending them to a large processing facility where they would not have control over the circumstances and hygiene.
For more information, visit Quattros’ Facebook or call 845.635.2018.
Northwind Farms is a family farm located in Tivoli. Owner Richard Biezynski visited the Hudson Valley on family vacations with his great-grandmother to Bells Pond, located in Hudson, when he was five years old. He loved it so much that he didn’t want to return home to Queens after those visits.
Northwind Farms started raising turkeys because Biezynski couldn’t find any that were raised the way he wanted. “During Thanksgiving, people would want turkeys,” he said. “Nobody raised turkeys the way I raised them.”
Biezynski is adamant about not putting chemicals in the feed. “You couldn’t even buy feed without chemicals [when we first started],” he said. “I did this because I didn’t want it [chemicals]. I had no anticipation of it becoming what it has become. Little by little, people heard about what I was doing and started coming by. As people heard about how I was raising birds, by word of mouth it became a business without even advertising.”
He also reflected on the changing times, discussing the term “free-range,” which didn’t exist when he started out. “I [didn’t] like raising birds in these cages,” he said. “They were just loose birds.” Northwind Farms’ main goal is to have clean, chemical-free birds. “The animals come first on my farm…It’s a very simple theory. I’m not into high production,” Biezynski added. “It’s always been that way.”
Northwind Farms has a licensed poultry-processing facility on site at the farm and is open year-round.
For more information, visit Northwind Farm’s Website or call 845.757.5591. █