As we head into Thanksgiving, Y&H wants to help you eat like a pilgrim (a Native American, too, because we’re all about equal opportunity eating here). In other words, we want to help you eat locally for the holiday. Almost 400 years ago, the pilgrims had no choice but to eat local. These days, we do. But it’s not easy.

With all the arguments about fresh vs. frozen, heritage vs. broad-breast white, free-range vs. barn-raised, it’s often hard to know where to turn for a quality turkey.

Politics and environment aside, you must know your own palate. Do you prefer white meat that tastes slightly sweet? Then stick with commercial broad-breast whites, which are breed and often chemically enhanced for those characteristics. But if you want a genuine taste of turkey, with the kind of deep, natural (and even gamey) flavors that the birds had before the giant food companies got a hold of them, go to Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., and buy one of its fresh, free-range toms or hens.

It’ll require some effort, yes. Maple Lawn is no longer taking orders over the phone or online for Thanksgiving turkeys,  but you can still pick one up at the farm. Employees will try to get you the size of bird you want. After Thanksgiving, you can once again e-mail a request to Maple Lawn.

Adventures in Shaw has a much longer list of turkey suppliers here.  Y&H also checked with Ecofriendly Foods about its supply of after-Thanksgiving birds. Here’s what a spokesman wrote back to Y&H:

We will have plenty of extra birds in the weeks following Thanksgiving, both our heritage birds and our hybrid/cross. (I can give you a better description of them if you need although they’re pretty well defined on our website at While we’re distributing fresh birds for Thanksgiving, it’s likely that buyers later in the year will be offered frozen birds. We expect to have plenty at the markets and they’re available on a first come, first served basis until we run out. If someone does want to actually reserve a particular type of bird or size of bird to ensure they get what they want, they can send a $40 deposit payment for each turkey they want via Paypal to When they leave the deposit they’ll need to let us know:

  • Their first and last name
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • The type of bird (breed) they wish to purchase
  • The approximate weight or weight range of the turkey they would like to reserve
  • The specific market and date they will pick up the turkey(s), either Saturday in Arlington Courthouse or Sunday at Dupont Circle.
  • Note:  If you reserve online and you want it for the upcoming weekend, you must place your online order by 7PM Tuesday of that week. That’s the only way we can make sure we have the order with enough advance notice to make sure it gets on the truck for delivery to DC for the upcoming weekend.

You can place an order in person at the market for a specific bird to be reserved and delivered the following week.

It’s also important to note that during the holidays, Ecofriendly is not always at the farmers markets so our staff can be with their families on the weekends following the holidays. So during December, the only dates we’ll be at the markets for people to get turkeys will be December 5/6, 12/13, and 19/20.

Finally, remember: Don’t buy a fresh turkey more than a day or two before you plan to cook it. Otherwise, you might have, shall we say, a Food Safety Issue. Not a good thing for the holidays.

Photo by Alan Vernon. via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License