Local Organic Turkeys in Short Supply

Demand increasing for organic, free-range Thanksgiving turkeys

By Jane Watrel
|  Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011  |  Updated 9:13 PM EDT
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Those looking to buy a locally raised turkey for the Thanksgiving table may be out of luck. Many farmers' supplies have been sold out for weeks.

Jane Watrel

Those looking to buy a locally raised turkey for the Thanksgiving table may be out of luck. Many farmers' supplies have been sold out for weeks.

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While stores have plenty of turkeys in stock, many local farmers say if you want an organic turkey, you may be out of luck.

Near Frederick, Md., organic farmer Carol Rollman said she sold her last turkey last week. Most orders were placed in June or July.

“Ours always sell out and usually we have a waiting list for next year,” she said. “I have been raising heritage turkeys for seven years and started out with a few the first year … and they always sell out.”

Customers will pick up their freshly slaughtered birds – hand raised since early spring – on the day before Thanksgiving.

Food experts at a Bethesda Safeway said many consumers are becoming more health conscious about how their food is raised. While they offer commercially raised turkeys, over the past five years, demand has increased for organic and free-range turkeys -- poultry raised without growth hormones or antibiotics.

About 740,000 turkeys are raised in Maryland each year. About 40 small farms in the state sell turkeys like Rollman’s.

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