Posts Tagged: Turkey Results 7
I decided to become a vegetarian when I was 12 years old, much to my mother’s dismay, and maintained my meat-free diet for almost 15 years, during which time I never missed poultry or beef for even a moment. I decided to start eating meat again when my husband and I began dating seriously. The decision arose partially out of a sudden low-grade gluten intolerance that forced me to reevaluate my diet, and partially out of solidarity for my husband’s meat-eating ways.
I recently came upon a thoughtful piece from Dr. Janet Chrzan of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Founder of the Oakmont Farmers’ Market in Havertown, PA. Chrzan wrote about an experiment she did (as a mental break from her academic writing) about the cost of food. While trolling through old advertisements on the “Philadelphia Inquirer”, she found one from 1951 advertising Thanksgiving turkeys for 73 cents per pound. That caught her eye because it’s so much more than what they cost nowadays at the supermarkets. She assumed it was used as a “loss leader,” a retail term that depicts merchandise used to entice shoppers to step into the store and at a price that may not actually reflect the costs. She recalled that the price last Thanksgiving was 39 cents per pound, which she remembers because she tracks loss leaders, comparing them with the prices at the farmers’ market she runs.
Using an online calculator, she translated the old advertised price into 2011 dollars, arriving at $6.40 per pound, based on inflation of 3.68%. Conversely, 39 cents in 2011 translates into 4 cents per pound in 1951. “Wow,” she wrote, “that demonstrates just how much industrial farming has decreased the cost of food over 60 years…but it also puts into perspective the value of the turkeys that my turkey farmer produces, using methods similar to the methods used in 1951. He charges $3.50 a pound for pastured hormone-and-antibiotic — free birds, almost half the comparable price of the loss leader of 1951. And the turkeys taste really good.”
Poulet sofrito, a braised chicken dish with lemon, cardamom and turmeric, was the Sabbath dish at my parents’ home in London after they left Egypt in 1956 following the Suez crisis. In Egypt it had been our cook Awad who prepared it. Without the distractions of life in Cairo within a large extended family, my mother took to cooking with passion — to please her husband, and when her children left home, to bring the family together on Friday nights. My two brothers and I never missed coming with our families. My mother always cooked at least three chickens and any leftovers were eaten as cold chicken sofrito on Saturday.
When I grew up in Toronto in the 1980s and early 1990s, a lot of my classmates in day school were the children of recent transplants from Montreal, and they brought with them nostalgia for the Jewish foods of their home city like Montreal bagels and smoked meat. But I longed for a Montreal food of a different kind — a Montreal smoked turkey at Passover. Heavily spiced and delicious cold, we ordered them from Montreal and they were the centerpieces of our seders. It was a special treat, not in the least because smoked turkey wasn’t the kind of the thing you could make at home (at least not easily).