08 November, 2009

Vintage Sunday: Wonder Meats Ad, 1963

This ad ran the week before Thanksgiving in the Springfield MA Republican newspaper. I find it interesting not only for the nostalgia value (Wonder Meats is long gone, and the "Agawam Center" shopping plaza is no longer there) or for the prices which seem so low to us, more than fifty years later.

No, what really interests me is the top item in the ad: the turkey. It seems that lately, phrases like "sustainable agriculture" and "local sourcing" get bandied about pretty frequently by food writers and bloggers. People seem to have forgotten that many parts of the country - including the Connecticut River Valley where I live - produced much of its own food until comparatively recently. Advertising in the local papers well into the 1970's touted locally and regionally produced food, and this was especially evident around Thanksgiving, when supermarkets, butcher shops, and restaurants all specifically mentioned that they carried fresh native turkeys.

In my area alone there were at least four turkey farms where customers could order a turkey at the beginning of November, and pick up the bird just before the holiday plucked, drawn, and ready for the oven. As the years went by though, big companies using factory farming techniques started putting the squeeze on our small New England farms, and today nearly all of these former family poultry farms are housing subdivisions, golf courses, condos, or otherwise developed.

I'm glad that people are becoming more aware of the food they eat, and more willing to support local agriculture. That interest will help preserve the two remaining dairies in my town - I'm sorry that it didn't come soon enough for some of the other local farms.

1 comment:

Eating The Road said...

"...today nearly all of these former family poultry farms are housing subdivisions, golf courses, condos, or otherwise developed."

That's so sad. You're right that there is at least a little more consumer awareness towards locally grown, raised and produced food items but it certainly needs to be kicked into high gear before it's too late. It's my feeling that right now is a pretty critical time as far as that's concerned. How amazing would it be if a majority of Americans bought a majority of their food from Farmers' Markets and the like.