Looking to buy an organic turkey this Thanksgiving? Let us show you what you are getting when you buy organic. We will explain the difference between an organic turkey and a regular/conventional turkey. And lastly share organic turkey prices from around the country.
As you are pursuing your options for this year's Thanksgiving bird, one of the factors you must consider is whether or not to get an organic turkey.
Why Would You Want to Buy Organic
You know why you would want to buy organic fruit or vegetables - to avoid food being directly sprayed with pesticides.
But they certainly don't spray pesticides directly on turkeys. So wouldn't all turkeys be organic?
The USDA has certain requirements that turkey or any poultry must be to be certified organic. As you read them you will see why all turkeys are not organic.
Requirements for Organic Turkeys
Here is what organic turkeys must eat and how they must be treated to be USDA Organic certified.
Farmers and ranchers must accommodate the health and natural behavior of their animals year-round. For example, organic livestock must be:To read more visit the USDA's website
– Generally, managed organically from the last third of gestation (mammals) or second day of life
– Allowed year-round access to the outdoors except under specific conditions (e.g., inclement weather).
– Raised on certified organic land meeting all organic crop production standards.
– Raised per animal health and welfare standards.
– Fed 100 percent certified organic feed, except for trace minerals and vitamins used to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements.
– Managed without antibiotics, added growth hormones, mammalian or avian byproducts, or other prohibited feed ingredients (e.g., urea, manure, or arsenic compounds).
Organic Turkeys Must Be 100% Organic Feed
The two biggest things here is that the turkey is raised on organic land and fed 100% organic feed. What goes in the turkey need to be organic.
If you are eating the turkey you are eating what the turkey ate indirectly. If that concerns you, you may want to consider an organic turkey.
In mass production of turkeys at places that are more like factories than farms, turkeys are fed a diet high in grain and corn without the food they would get if they were allowed to roam free.
The cheap feed in all likelihood is going to have been treated with pesticides when growing and if it's corn or soy is going to likely be genetically modified corn or soy. The chemicals they ingest can end up building up in their fatty tissues, which you then eat. Yummmy!
Antibiotics Used in Poultry Production
Another thing to be concerned about is antibiotics. When living in such tight quarters, sickness and disease is more likely.
So the poultry is given antibiotics in their feed to protect them and any remnants of the antibiotics that remains in their system we digest. A turkey cannot be given antibiotics if it is to be considered organic.
You can find turkeys that are not organic but are still antibiotic free. Check the packaging in the store.
Plainville Farms turkeys that I have seen sold at Costco are antibiotic free, both the organic and the conventional.
Know Where Your Food Comes From
Just because a turkey is not organic doesn't mean that it was fed "toxic sludge" it's whole life. This is where getting to know where your food comes from is important.
If you have concerns, express them to whoever produces the turkey you want to buy. If you don't get the answers you want, move on. There is plenty of time now before Thanksgiving to ask these questions.
A Word About Growth Hormones
Whether organic or not, all turkeys grown in the US must be done so without given growth hormones. That practice is illegal, no matter how you raise your bird. So when that is listed on the packaging for a turkey is really isn't telling you anything you didn't already know.
How Much Does an Organic Turkey Cost?
It would be easy to buy organic if money is not object, but for many of us that is not the case. Here are some organic turkey prices I have sen in the past (prices may be different at you store).
|Store||Type of Turkey||Price|
|Costco||Plainville Farm Organic Turkeys||$2.99/lb|
|Costco||Butterball Organic Turkey||$2.99/lb|
|Costco||Foster Farms Organic Turkey||$2.99/lb|
|Trader Joe's||Organic Fresh Turkey||$3.49/lb|
|Wegman's||Wegman's Organic Turkey Breast||$5.99/lb|
|Whole Foods||WFM Brand Organic Turkey||$3.49/lb|
|Whole Foods||Diestel Organic Turkey||$3.49/lb|
|Whole Foods||Diestel Organic Heirloom Turkey||$5.49/lb|
|Whole Foods||Mary's Organic Turkey||$3.49/lb|
The cheapest organic turkeys I found where going for $2.99 per pound.
For meat that isn't a bad price. It's the same price people pay for boneless skinless chicken breasts at Costco.
But it's hard when you have options that are under $1 per pound. I get it. This post isn't meant to make you feel guilty if you can't afford an organic turkey, but more to explain what one is so you can make an informed decision for your dinner table this Thanksgiving.
Look for Antibiotic Free Turkeys
If you can't go organic this year, maybe you can at least try to avoid turkeys given antibiotics.
Here is a list of stores I have seen carrying antibiotic free turkeys.
- Whole Foods Market
- Trader Joe's
Select Whole Foods stores carry Nature's Rancher turkeys that are antibiotic free, even though they are not certified organic. They go for $2.49/pound in most stores, with a few select stores at an even cheaper $1.99/pound.
Trader Joe's turkeys are also antibiotic free. Shop around, see what you can find in your price range.
Consider a smaller bird to save money. Smaller turkeys cook quicker anyway, which means less chance of drying them out.