Turkeys Thankful for Trend

first_imgStan Savage, a poultry specialist with the University of Georgia Extension Service, saidmost small families can roast a large chicken instead of a turkey. That’s sure to maketurkeys thankful. Remember all the pictures you’ve seen of large families gathered around a huge roastedturkey for the Thanksgiving holiday? That’s something farmers can be thankful for, too. The best early holiday gift for the chef and clean-up crew, then, is less meat left over. Bachtel said today’s Georgia families are smaller and more separated. So holidaygatherings just aren’t as large. A six- to eight-pound roaster chicken will easily serve four people and have a little leftover, he said, “depending on their holiday appetite.” Nearly 60 percent of Georgia’s growth is from people moving into the state. Thatmeans these people have probably left some family behind, he said. “Farmers send turkeys to the market when they reach about 20 pounds,” he said.”That’s a big bird for a four-person family.” Your county extension agent can tell you more about turkey food safety guidelines. Georgia farmers don’t raise turkeys anymore. “The last of the turkeys grown in thestate were shipped out for processing in late summer,” Savage said. Another option for family chefs is buying just the turkey parts you want. Only aboutone-third of U.S.-grown turkeys make it to a family table as a whole bird. The rest,Savage said, are processed for hospitals’, schools’ and restaurants’ use.center_img “Turkey will keep safely for three to four days in the refrigerator,” she said. “But besure to heat it thoroughly to 165 degrees before serving it again.” Farmers allow about 5 percent of those birds to grow to roaster size. That adds up toabout a million roasters grown in Georgia every week. “We’re seeing farmers who used to raise turkeys,” he said, “switching their productionfacilities over to chickens instead.” When processors cut up the turkeys, they also prepare some parts for retail sale. “Overall, there’s been a decline in family size in Georgia over the past five to sixyears,” he said. “It’s reasonable for grocery shoppers to buy only a turkey breast or drumstick if that’sthe meat they prefer,” Savage said. No matter how much you have left over, though, store it carefully. Judy Harrison, anextension foods specialist, said to divide leftover meat into small, shallow containers. Demand for poultry and poultry products is on the rise, forcing processors to look formore poultry farmers to satisfy that demand. Georgia farmers produce about 21 millionchickens every week. “That’s just not the way families celebrate anymore,” said Doug Bachtel, a professorwith the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences.last_img