This Thanksgiving, take the green route and purchase a natural turkey. Here are some tips on how to find a free range, organic or heritage turkey.
Free range turkeys are those that are not kept in confinement, although sometimes they are kept in a barn rather than outdoors. When looking to buy a free-range turkey, look to see if the company raises the turkeys without antibiotics, animal by-products, preservatives or hormones. Also, make sure that they truly get out and are not simply given access to the outdoors.
Certified organic birds are fed organic feed. They are raised without the use of chemicals, antibiotics and hormones. In addition, they are processed without additives. When trying to find an organic turkey, look for farms that give the turkeys plenty of space to roam.
Heritage turkeys are a more rare form of turkey. Their claim to fame is a richer tasting meat and a longer development time. When Slow Food USA began the “Ark of Taste” one of the foods they boarded onto the Ark was the heritage turkey. This was to ensure this endangered or threatened turkey breed stayed around for years to come.
One company I really like is Mary’s. They sell chicken, turkeys and duck both online and at natural food stores like Whole Foods. At marysturkeys.com, you can also order free-range, organic or heritage turkeys. In addition, one can see a video of the farm and the conditions where the turkeys live.
For several years now, I have gotten my Thanksgiving turkey at Whole Foods. During Thanksgiving, Whole Foods has extra associates that will reserve you a fresh free range or organic turkey. Then close to Turkey Day, customers simply pick it up all wrapped up and ready to be cooked.
Buying local is always best. In this way, you can support your local economy. In addition, you can sometimes go see the turkeys and where they spend their time. Many local farms have organic turkeys. Localharvest.org is a great resource for finding a place to buy an organic, free-range or heritage turkey. Simply type in what product you are looking for along with your zip code. Then, if available, the contact information will pop up. Lucky me, I found a farm close to me that produces veggies, fruit, free-range eggs and heritage eastern bronze turkeys.
Those who choose to buy free range and organic support the ethical treatment of animals. These animals are healthier, fed a better diet and do not contain hormones. In addition, hormone and antibiotic free meat is healthier for those consuming it. According to lobels.com, fresh is better than frozen because ” freezing changes the texture of any meat to a greater or lesser extent, in part because of dehydration.” Personally, I think organic turkey simply tastes better.
The main con of buying a free range, organic or heritage turkey is the price. Typically, these types of turkeys cost more than their frozen counterparts. In general, I think more people would like to buy sustainable food. Yet, due to the cost, they often shy away from it. One tip to save money is to simply get one small organic turkey and several organic turkey breasts. This way you have plenty of meat but pay for less bones and carcass. And Uncle Bob or Pete or Nat can still have their turkey leg.
Why it’s Green
Buying sustainable food is not only better for you and more humane for the animals, it also helps the environment. Sustainabletable.org states that factory farms have too many animals in a concentrated amount of space. This leads to an “unmanageable amount of waste.” In turn, trying to dispose of this waste “has a devastating effect on the air, water and soil surrounding factory farms.”
Thus, try an organic, free-range or heritage turkey this Thanksgiving. You won’t be sorry.