turkey buying tips
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Eight Turkey-Buying Tips for Thanksgiving

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If you’re having turkey this Thanksgiving, it’s likely one of your most important purchases. Usually, the turkey is the center of attention on a Thanksgiving dinner table, so getting the right one is important. Here are eight turkey buying tips to help you.

1. Buy Early Rather Than Later

This is mostly true if you are going to avoid the big box stores and instead shoot for buying a turkey locally from a farmer. You should call them as soon as you can to find out the process, as they may need to know in advance that you will be making the purchase. You may even be able to pay in advance. Also, if you buy frozen, it needs a day for every five pounds to thaw out.

turkey buying tips

2. Read the Label

When you shop, always read labels to find out if they put any additives in the turkey. The words “all-natural” don’t really mean much other than if they did put any additives, they consider them natural.

3. Check Out the Company

If you’re buying from a well-known company, be sure to check them out so that you know what their real farming practices are. Some people will simply lie, so you want to find out from others what’s true or not true. If you can go there to see for yourself, do that.

4. Avoid Factory Farms

The problem with factory farms is that they go as close as they can to breaking the rules in order to be able to label their turkeys organic or free-range when they really aren’t at all other than in the “legal” sense.

turkey buying tips

5. Get Organic

According to consumer reports, people should always buy organic turkeys that carry the USDA organic seal because these turkeys are not given prophylactic antibiotics. This drug is causing issues with antibiotic resistance in humans, which is very bad with the growth of the flesh-eating MRSA virus.

6. Find Free Range

A real free-range turkey is kept in mostly natural conditions and can move about freely at least part of the day. Keep in mind that factory farms may say they are free-range when they are just scraping by. Find a local farm through Localharvest.org where you can buy your own organic free-range turkey.

7. Buy Direct When You Can

Not everyone has the option to find a local farm, but if you do, this is your very best option. The main reason is that these people are part of your community and if they have a small working farm, your purchase keeps them right where they are. Plus, it’s going to taste better and have a smaller environmental impact.

turkey buying tips

8. Get the Right Size

Check your oven size first, but you’ll want to buy enough turkey so that everyone can have at least one serving. The guide is to buy a turkey that is the size and weight that accounts for 1.5 lbs. per person. So, if you are having six guests, you need a nine-pound turkey.

If you need a lot more than that, you’ll want to consider buying two smaller ones to ensure better flavor as the bigger the turkey, the drier it will be. Always avoid the huge “mega” turkeys as they were likely given a lot of hormones to grow like that.


Buying the turkey with lots of thought and consideration for how it’s grown, how it’s cared for, and what it’s going to taste like when it’s on your table, are all very important considerations for having a sustainable holiday.

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This article provides general information and discussion about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.

Eight Turkey-Buying Tips for Thanksgiving


  • Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA

    I had two great stories that came to mind as I read this…
    One from a while ago…
    When I went to Birdsboro, PA (Yes, that’s a real place) and helped start a new waste treatment program to rid the ammonia from the plant wastewater. Using strains of microbes that I invented. The start of an affilition with Swift until its acquisition by ConAgra…
    The other was with my butcher. One whom I frequented for some 35 years (until he moved back to Israel). Traveling (initially) 125 miles until I moved closer to him. Well, my ex-wife’s family would have Thanksgiving and Christmas get togethers (they weren’t Jewish). To ensure our family would have food ot eat, we brought the turkey (cooked). So, my butcher knew to have a fresh turkey available for me. (Not many Jewish folks would be buying a fresh turkey for Christmas…) When my ex and I separated, I obviously had no need to the turkey. (I never placed the order either.) When I got to his shop in January, he kept following me around and asking how I was doing, what’s going one, etc. Finally, when I said all was well (repeatedly), his rejoinder (edited for family audiences) Baloney! For 30 years you got a kosher turkey for Christmas. This year- no. So, stop BSing me and tell me what’s going on. So much for “personal” secrets.

  • Florence

    Hey Dominique, I gave up turkey many years ago when I decided to become a whole-food, plant-based vegetarian. However, for turkey lovers, these are some important tips you shared in your article.

    • Dominique

      Understood. We are going to see my mother-in-law this Christmas and she is vegetarian so we will celebrate a vegetarian Christmas this year!

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