Just ordered a fresh, Alabama-raised turkey from Bates Turkey Farms through Tria Market in Homewood. I'm happy to be supporting a locally owned store and an in-state family farm -- and getting a better-tasting turkey at the same time. (Tria also has fresh turkeys available to order from Ashley Farms in North Carolina, and free-range heritage turkeys.)
Several years ago, when we were CSA members of an area farm, we discovered how good turkey can really be. Turkeys that get a chance to move around have firmer, more flavorful meat.
We've also gotten delicious free-range frozen turkeys from Organic Harvest in Hoover.
There are a lot of different terms you'll see when buying poultry -- organic, antibiotic-free, pasture-raised, free-range, heritage, etc. Some of these terms are regulated, others are not. The best thing to do is to find out as much as you can about the farm or producer.
- Alabama Farm News article on Bates Turkey Farms
- "Turkey Talk," by Sam Gugino, who writes the Tastes food column for Wine Spectator magazine
- Food Network's Turkey Buying Guide
- Local Harvest (to find farms offering turkeys in Alabama, search for "turkey" under Name/Description/Product and "Alabama" under Where)
One of these days I'm going to try a Heritage turkey (sort of like an heirloom tomato is to the tomato world), maybe just a small one for the three of us. (Not sure if our extended family would appreciate the more assertive taste.)
Here's a link to more information on Heritage Turkeys: www.localharvest.org/features/heritage-turkeys.jsp