Turkey Pickin’

Lots of confusing terms being thrown around the grocery store: “Free Range,” “Organic,” “Cage Free.” It’s hard to understand what it all means, what your actually buying, AND if it’s worth the price.

I ran across a great article in my cookbook “The Best of Clean Eating” that explains the differences in turkeys and what all the labels mean.

Heritage Turkey: “All heritage turkeys must be breed naturally and grow slowly over five to seven years for hens and three to five years for toms.” These birds are hard to find in grocery stores, but they are slowly making a come back due to the growing concern of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Slow Food USA, and concerned farmers.

Free-Range Turkey: “According to the USDA ‘free range’ means that birds have ‘access’ to the outdoors. Above and beyond that, it’s up to the farmer to determine how often and how far the turkeys can actually roam.” Unfortunately the label makes it sound like they are happy little birds running around a farm. But that is far from the truth….usually. Most of the time they aren’t raised much different than the ‘normal’ turkeys. With a higher price tag, it’s hard to know exactly what your paying for. Best thing, do research on the farm before buying.

Organic Turkey: Most organic turkeys are the “luckiest of the bunch.” They are free from pesticides, chemicals, and antibiotics. Most are also free-range.

Fresh Turkey: The name says it all: fresh. They have never been “chilled below 26 degrees F —and that’s good because some experts argue that frozen turkeys are drier.”

Kosher Turkey: “Similar to organic turkeys, these birds are fed antibiotic-free grains and are allowed to roam freely. They’re processed under rabbinical supervision and soaked with a salt-brine that adds moisture and helps retain that moisture during cooking.”

Good luck picking out a turkey!


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