BRB w/ Nathan P – Pasture-Raised Turkeys, Universal Gravy & Braiding Sweetgrass
Towards healthier and sustainable turkeys on every Thanksgiving plate, an impossible-to-miss gravy recipe, and how indigenous practices can heal our relationship with the Earth (#43).
Happy Thanksgiving all 🦃
This week, I feel especially grateful to have you as part of this community of food enthusiasts & climate optimists. Thank you for reading and wishing you lovely holidays with your loved ones.
Welcome back to BRB w/ Nathan P, your 5-min weekly dose of climate information to inspire climate action.
My mission is to make it fun, easy, and delicious to make more sustainable decisions.
Each Wednesday, I share 💥1 Breakthrough, 🥘1 Recipe, and 📚1 Book on food & climate.
💥 Breakthrough: Pasture-Raised Turkeys
Thanksgiving is arguably one of the easier holidays to go vegetarian. With a table full of green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, soups, salads, and pies, one can reasonably stuff themselves without missing the turkey centerpiece.
Today, I want to focus on the center plate, and specifically on how one practice makes healthier, happier, and more sustainable turkeys: pasture. This post will cover:
Why pasture-raised stands out from other methods
What to look for when purchasing a turkey
1. Why pasture-raised stand out from other methods
There are some harsh realities in the poultry industry. For one, most industrially raised chicken may have more room in the oven than at any point in their lives.
Commercial poultry production is unsustainable and reaching natural tipping points. As one indicator, the avian flu crisis killed 131 million domestic birds just last year (WHO).
Alternative, small-scale pasture-raised methods produce happier, tastier, and more sustainable birds. There are multiple factors that make pasture the best raising method for turkeys for their own health, human health, and planetary health:
🦃 Pasture-raised turkeys are raised humanely and ethically
☀️ Pasture-raised turkeys roam grassy pastures in fresh air daily
💡 Pasture-raised turkeys are not crowded & confused by 24h lights
🌱 Pasture-raised turkeys have room to run and fully develop
🪱 Pasture-raised turkeys feed on bugs and organic grains
🐔 Pasture-raised turkeys do not have their beaks cut
These differences lead to drastically better results: turkeys with higher quality of life that later provide more nutrient dense and tender meat on our plates.
Pasture-raised turkeys are worth the higher price tag, as do pasture-raised chicken and other poultry. And since chicken accounts for 7.2% of all the protein in American diets, carrying this purchasing habit beyond Thanksgiving is important.
Only a small percentage of poultry is pasture-raised today, and more humane and sustainable practices can only expand if there is the right demand. Make sure to vote with your wallet on the future you want to create.
PS: pasture-raised eggs are also worth the premium, with twice the amount of omega-3, vitamin E, and other micronutrients of any other egg type.
2. What to look for when purchasing a turkey
In case you haven’t bought your turkey yet, here are a few things to look for:
👩🌾 Locally farmed
🦃 Heritage breed
Beware a few greenwashing terms in labels:
❌ Natural (as opposed to…?)
❌ Free-range (“outdoor access” is usually BS)
❌ Hormone-free (the USDA does not permit hormones for turkeys)
Turkey or not, I wish you delicious Thanksgiving / Friendsgiving meals and quality time with your loved ones.
🥘 Recipe: Universal Gravy
Homemade gravy makes all the difference.
Three ingredients and a little bit of technique are all you need to make a stand-out gravy to complement any dish on the Thanksgiving table. This recipe makes it almost impossible to mess up – promised.
2 cups (472 mL) stock of choice (chicken/turkey, mushroom, or veggie) – ideally also homemade with the recipe in BRB #5
1/2 stick (60g) of butter
2 tbsp (30g) of flour
Bring 2 cups of stock in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat to a low simmer.
Add in the butter, then stir until melted.
Reduce the heat to low, then add in the flour. Whisk until smooth and incorporated. Cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency – it should coat the back of a spoon.
Warm before serving, and enjoy with your grateful besties :)
PS: if you make it, please send pictures!
📚 Book: Braiding Sweetgrass
To honor the indigenous origins of the Thanksgiving tradition, I’m resurfacing a book I love gifting and discussing: Braiding Sweetgrass.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is both an indigenous mother and PhD-holding botanist. In different chapters devoted to her favorite plants – including strawberries, pecans, and witch hazel – she contrasts the reciprocity of ecology with the transactionality of consumerism.
Our food system is no exception. We lack curiosity in where our food comes from; we build systems that extract rather than regenerate; we favor short-term gains to long-term harmony.
Robin interrogates our relationship with food and the land, encouraging us to become indigenous to where we live. We have much to learn from age-old indigenous practices like the ‘Three Sisters’ – beans, corn, and – which grow in resilient polycultures rather than chemically fertilized monocultures.
This book has transformed my world-view – and I hope it will inspire in you a renewed desire to cultivate reciprocal and harmonious relationships with the natural world.
My favorite quotes as teasers:
“For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.”
“Wild strawberries fit the definition of gift, but grocery store berries do not… As a gift-thinker, I would be deeply offended if I saw wild strawberries in the grocery store. I would want to kidnap them all. They were not meant to be sold, only to be given.”
“Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”
Thank you for reading – BRB next week ✌️
Hi there! My name is Nathan Paumier – I’m an avid reader, food enthusiast, and climate optimist. I started this newsletter after frequent questions on food tech, reading recommendations, and my secret recipes.
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