Tough decisions come turkey time, buy local? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Tough decisions come turkey time, buy local?

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Thanksgiving is just three weeks away. And many families are already talking about where they'll get the meal's juicy centerpiece.

Peter Stone says his family owned and operated turkey farm in Orwell, is all about the product. Stone says since his father started raising the birds back in 1989 - the family has grown from 300 turkeys to 30,000. And now, he says, is crunch time.

"It's the most important time of the year because our Thanksgiving sales are probably 60% of our total income for the year," Stone said.

Stone says his turkey farm is the largest of its kind in the state -- but admits it's small on a nationwide scale. Stone says he has heard of commercial farms bagging more than a million birds every year. But what local turkeys have, Stone says, is a superior quality.

"Well we grow them slower -- we don't add any fat to the feed, we don't add any animal byproducts. And it takes our turkeys longer to grow, than it does a commercial turkey," said Stone.

Although shoppers might want to gobble up a juicier turkey -- the price difference may stop them. Stone says a supermarket turkey usually sells for around 20 bucks -- but a local bird of the same size could cost you more than 50 dollars.

"The biggest reason is our costs -- the costs of growing turkeys in Vermont, and for a small producer is higher than for a large farm," Stone said.

Stone says the price of feed skyrocketed in 2008 which caused a jump in their prices by more than 50%. But buying a pricier turkey, means money back in the neighborhood. Stone says nearly all products used on the farm are purchased from the community.

Although business has been steady for the Orwell farm, many shoppers say their budgets are too tight to buy local. 

"Well during the really hard times that we all are enduring, we all have to count our pennies, we all have two or three jobs and many children. So unfortunately, although I would like to support the local economy, I have to buy the cheaper turkey," said Rebecca Sanford-Wilson, a shopper.

Whether you choose to fill up on a local turkey or not, make sure to save room for dessert.

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