MANY POULTRY growers still lace their birds with hormones and chemicals in order to both fatten and preserve the product. In addition, to create the not-unpopular self- or pre-basted turkeys, birds are "pumped" with oils and broth. This liquid can account for up to 6% of a turkey's weight.
The time might be right for a different kind of holiday season. Turkeys that do not contain unwanted extras are available at, but not limited to, speciality stores or butcher shops. At Farmers Market Poultry, now in its 30th year at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, you'll get fresh, chemical-free, gourmet poultry. Turkeys and chickens are from Zacky Farms, with the exception of the smoked turkey, which is a frozen product from Norbest. The squab is fresh, direct from Carpenter's Ranch in Ventura. Other birds include Canadian geese, quail, pheasant and capon, all of which are shipped frozen. During the holidays, telephone your order two weeks in advance.
Hormone-free fresh turkeys are grown locally for Mrs. Gooch's Natural Foods Markets and sold under the company brand name; the birds are put into a sharp freeze for 20 to 30 minutes to form an ice crust, which keeps the meat fresh longer. Quinn's Nutrition Center, in four locations, carries hormone-free Zacky Farms as well as products by Shelton Farms, another grower of natural poultry. Beginning one week before Thanksgiving, Elwell Farms in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana offers fresh hormone- and additive-free turkeys.