NFU opinion: A weighty issue to follow your Christmas turkey

Chris and Fran Mobbs with the oldest and newest in weighing technology, courtesy of J M A Photograph

Chris and Fran Mobbs with the oldest and newest in weighing technology, courtesy of J M A Photography. - Credit: Archant

It’s been a hectic month for those of us who grow traditional farm fresh turkeys, starting on December 1, the time when most of us began the Christmas pluck, writes Chris Mobbs.

That was also the date when we turkey farmers needed to become bilingual - at least until Christmas. This does not mean we suddenly begin speaking French, German or Mandarin. I am referring to the century long battle that continues to wage between the imperial and metric systems.

For more than 20 years we have been selling our turkeys by kilogrammes, since the ‘powers that be’ told us we had to convert to the new way.

I have worked hard to become fluent in the new language and am now almost a native speaker – I can even think in kilos. I have become almost fond of the logic of working in tens and units, I am attracted by the simplicity of the system.

So why would I want to preserve the old language by talking imperial, with its complicated illogical approach - 16 ounces in a pound, 14 pounds in a stone? If you wish to become really confused, look up the meaning of the pound in Wikipedia.

Why? Because my customers, be they butchers, wholesalers or individuals who buy from the farm gate, all insist on preserving the old way. Even my children, all born since the 1990s, still naturally default to pounds and ounces.

In the past few weeks, when asking a customer what weight of bird they would like to order, they all presented me with their preferred weight in pounds, adding “I can’t be having with that new-fangled system”. It is at this point that not only do I have to be fluent in kilos, but also able to readily convert between the two.

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So if you supported your traditional turkey producer this Christmas, I hope you also had a care for the extra mental gymnastics we all put ourselves through. Like our family farm, most will have been growing turkeys in the traditional way for generations.

It is this skill and knowhow gained over the last century that means your farm fresh traditional turkey is such a special product. Each producer will have their own unique selling point, something they do which is different and makes them proud. Maybe it’s the feed they use, some of us grow and produce our own home grains, and others might have old orchards that the turkeys roam through.

If you weren’t part of this tradition this Christmas, I hope you will consider gracing your table with a traditional free range turkey for Christmas 2015.

Contact your local farm producer, butcher or farm shop where you will find the genuine article and the expertise to answer your questions.

They will be delighted to help – and take your order in pounds, kilos or even platefuls.

Chris Mobbs farms at Cratfield and is former chairman of the NFU’s Suffolk Coastal branch.

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