The Feel So Good Turkey

Last week, I described my envy of the 35 pound pasture-raised turkey that my friend Rachel cooked for Thanksgiving last fall. I wanted a big-pasture raised turkey too! So I found a turkey at Oregon Valley Farms and they shipped it to me. Into the freezer it went until Christmas Day. Then I was curious. Was this big, beautiful, pale brown, pasture-raised turkey going to be noticeably different than its bland, factory-raised cousin with the bleached white skin? The one I could buy at the grocery store?

A while back, I read a fascinating book published by National Geographic titled “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats”. The book enlightened me and totally grossed me out all at the same time. The exposeʹ had me on the edge of my seat and by the end of the book, I understood the phrase “Ignorance is bliss”. I wanted to un-know what I now knew. Because of this, I saw the turkey sitting in my freezer in a new light.

Christmas finally came and I roasted the turkey to perfection, thanks to a probe thermometer that took out all the guesswork. The aroma that filled the room was intoxicating.

I sampled a taste of the crispy, bronze turkey. The flavor burst all over the inside of my mouth and was followed by a moment of silence. Springy like a firm pillow, it was the juiciest, most tender turkey I had ever eaten. The flavor had an indescribable depth. The turkey not only tasted delicious, each bite seemed to be infused with a feeling consciousness . . . like friends, sunshine, exercise, slugs and bugs. The turkey felt true to eat. It had integrity. This was a subtle discernment but the vibe was definitely there. I was free from the back-of-mind worry that this living being was raised in a shadowy barn with no windows and killed inhumanely.

I don’t think this is my imagination, but seems to me our turkey tasted and felt different than one raised in harsh conditions. Much of what we sense in our world is invisible and can’t be validated by our external senses. Happy food just feels better and it doesn’t need an explanation to be true, felt, or understood.

The turkey was scrumptious with the traditional stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and cranberry sauce. After the last tender morsel was gone, I described that beautiful big bird as “the feel good turkey”. Eating food that is grown or raised in harmony with the earth elevates the whole culinary experience. That’s soul food at its best. A happy turkey just feels better. I wonder if Rachel thinks so too.