Be More Green, While Spending Less Green: Turkey


So the other day I was at the local natural grocery store and they were charging $7 for one little pound of sustainably-raised ground turkey, wrapped in non-recyclable plastic and literally just enough for one meatloaf or a few turkey burgers.

Meanwhile, they were selling whole turkeys by the same  for $3/lb, bringing the price of an entire 15 pound bird to $45.

Now some will say, holy cow, why would you ever spend $45 on a whole turkey?!  Folks, do the math…and think about how, if you are a meat-eater, you can better utilize the whole beast while also significantly reducing your packaging waste and saving some serious coin to boot.

You see, husband and I just did something this week that exemplifies how it’s done. We’re not roast turkey folks but we definitely appreciate a great turkey burger or turkey sausage, so we bought a beautiful 15 lb, local, pasture-raised turkey purely to grind up, meaning we got to find out exactly how much meat this bird had to offer.

Our $45 turkey got us over $145 worth of product had we bought it all individually. Here’s how it added up:

  1. 9 lbs of meat (about 60% white, which went directly through the grinder and into the freezer, and 40% dark, which we’re grinding with pork fat, dried tart cherries and seasonings to make our very favorite sausage). That’d have cost $63 if we bought it by the pound at the grocery store…not to mention 9 plastic or foam trays they come on and the plastic wrap on each.

  2. Giblets which are our dog’s favorite treat. Priceless.

  3. Neck which will go into the homemade stuffing on Thanksgiving (we don’t eat roast turkey but I still make stuffing in a casserole dish like my mom did when I was a kid, and set the turkey neck right in the middle as it bakes). One freeze-dried turkey neck dog treat, sold by Only Natural Pet? $3.19.

  4. 16 quarts of stock from the frame (always ALWAYS do multiple rounds of stock with the frame, not just one, as it may be lighter in color on the second go-round, but still tastes great!), seasoned with saved veggie scraps and herbs then stored in glass canning jars with reusable lids (in the fridge for use within a week, or if you don’t fill them all the way, the freezer works for long term). Pacific Natural Foods sells 32 oz boxes in hard-to-recycle TetraPak for ~ $4.50/each…that equals $72.

  5. Turkey bones & frame after the stock has been made, for our chickens to clean up and enjoy as an awesome protein treat in the late fall as they bulk up for winter? Yes please! Average bag of high protein chicken treats run about $10, and are almost always sold in (non-recyclable) plastic packaging.

What do we do with the bones/frame after the chooks clean them up? They go to the far end of the property where we let the coyotes have some dessert – the only thing that went to the landfill was the plastic the whole bird was wrapped in. Not bad.

And after that? Well, you rehearse for your post-Thanksgiving dinner nap, of course…



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