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Quiz: What Kind Of Turkey Should You Buy For Thanksgiving?

All-natural, organic, heritage, kosher — WTF, there are SO MANY OPTIONS. We'll tell you what to buy.

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  1. 1. How much money do you want to spend?

    Very little. I don't care if it is full of chemicals. So are Doritos and they're delicious.
    One small step up from cheapest turkey because I don't want to eat antibiotics.
    I'll spend a little extra because I care about the earth.
    I want the best-tasting, most socially responsible turkey money can buy.
  2. 2. How much do you care that your turkey was a happy turkey?

    It's a stupid bird. Who cares.
    I guess I care. Unless that costs me moneys. Then I don't care.
    I care but still don't want to spend a TON of money.
    I want a bird that had a really nice life and died happily ever after.
  3. 3. How likely is it that you'll remember to thaw your turkey a few days before Thanksgiving?

    Uhhhhhhhh, there's no way.
    Of course I'll remember. WTF. This isn't my first rodeo.
    I'd remember, but who buys a frozen turkey? Gross.
  4. 4. Are you going to brine your turkey?

    Duh. Isn't that what all the cool kids do?
    Isn't that a messy hassle? No.
    WTF is brine?
  5. 5. Will your guests eat more dark or white meat?

    We are Breast people. And we are proud.
    Dark meat is the ONLY meat.
    Hard to know because all the meat disappears in seconds. *Hair toss*
    I don't care tell me how to buy the cheapest turkey.
  6. 6. Are your guests likely to ask you where you got your turkey?

    Yes, and I'll brag that it was inexpensive but still tastes so good.
    Maybe. If so, I'd like to be able to answer in a way that makes everyone feel good about what they're eating.
    We will be drunk. That's a stupid question.
    Irrelevant: I will be handing out brochures on its superior heirloom origins and flavor regardless.

Quiz: What Kind Of Turkey Should You Buy For Thanksgiving?

You got: Frozen Supermarket Turkey

Plain old frozen turkeys are the cheapest option at about $1-$2/lb. They're flash frozen — sometimes well in advance of the holiday — and stored at or below 0°F. More often than not, they have been raised and processed in a crowded factory farm. They may have been treated with antibiotics. If the packaging says "Natural," this means the turkey contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed. But that doesn't mean it hasn't been treated with antibiotics.

Frozen Supermarket Turkey
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You got: Fresh Supermarket Turkey

"Fresh" means unfrozen — but usually they are brought as close to frozen as possible. They cost a little more than a frozen turkey at about $2-$3/lb, but they are the better choice because they usually have better flavor. "Fresh" as a term all on its own does not mean they are free of antibiotics or raised in good conditions, it just means not frozen. If it's marked as "Natural" that means it contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed. But that doesn't mean it hasn't been treated with antibiotics.

Where to get one: You should buy a fresh turkey no more than two days before you plan to cook it. For this reason, it's a good idea to reserve one at your supermarket or with your local butcher.

Fresh Supermarket Turkey
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You got: Organic Turkey

The term "organic" is one step up from "free range." (Free range doesn't actually guarantee a lovely pastured existence, so look for it combined with another term, like free-range kosher or free-range organic.) Organic means the bird was raised in a way that's monitored and approved as organic by the USDA — and everything that goes into the bird must be grown organically as well. No animal byproducts, no genetically modified organisms, no pesticides or chemical fertilizers used on the feed. Organic birds are raised in outside enclosures allowing freedom to roam, and aren't treated with any antibiotics. It doesn't guarantee better taste but often leads to it.

Where to get one: Buy a fresh organic turkey no more than two days before you plan to cook it. For this reason, it's a good idea to reserve one at your supermarket or with your local butcher. Whole Foods will have them, or this website can help you find one nearby.

If you can't find a fresh organic turkey near you, order a frozen one online now through Kristina's Ranch Market.

Organic Turkey
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You got: Heritage Turkey

The breed of most supermarket turkeys is "Broad-Breasted White." These turkeys have been genetically engineered over the years to be so big that they couldn't exist or breed without human interference (sometimes they even have trouble walking). Some farmers see room for improvement and are reviving breeds that used to be raised in the U.S. prior to the 1950s like Bourbon Reds, Bronzes, and Narrangansetts. These old-fashioned turkeys have a richer, deeper more interesting flavor; more dark meat and less breast meat. Plus they can have sex with each other without artificial insemination, so that's great! They are typically raised under very humane, environmentally conscious conditions. But because they cost more to raise, they cost more to buy — anywhere from $7 to $14/lb.

Where to get one: Finding real heritage turkeys takes a little work. Order them as far in advance as possible as they tend to sell out quickly. Some will arrive fresh and some will arrive frozen, so check with the farm. Order online from: Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, White Oak Pastures, Mary's Turkeys, Ayrshire Farm, Elmwood Stock Farm via Local Harvest, Heritage Foods USA.

Whole Foods sells Diestel Farms "heirloom turkeys" and there has been some controversy that those birds aren't really heritage breeds, that they can't breed naturally and can be raised faster, which is why they are less expensive. If this concerns you, read more about that here and here.

Heritage Turkey
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You got: Kosher Turkey, Fresh

A kosher bird has been processed by hand under rabbinical supervision. They are raised "free-range" meaning they have access to a common outdoor area, and are not treated with antibiotics. These turkey is soaked in water for half an hour, then packed in kosher salt and placed on an incline for about an hour to allow the blood to drain. After that, the bird is rinsed three times. This means they usually provide juicy meat and it's not really accomplishing much to brine a kosher turkey. They run about $4-$5/lb. "Fresh" means unfrozen — but usually they are brought as close to frozen as possible.

Where to get one: Buy a fresh turkey no more than two days before you plan to cook it. Kosher turkeys, both fresh and frozen, are usually available at supermarkets. If you can't find them, you can order one online through Kosher Express or Wise Organic Pastures.

Kosher Turkey, Fresh
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You got: Kosher Turkey, Frozen

A kosher bird has been processed by hand under rabbinical supervision. They are raised "free-range" meaning they have access to a common outdoor area, and are not treated with antibiotics. These turkey is soaked in water for half an hour, then packed in kosher salt and placed on an incline for about an hour to allow the blood to drain. After that, the bird is rinsed three times. This means they usually provide juicy meat and it's not really accomplishing much to brine a kosher turkey. They run about $4-$5/lb.

Where to get one: Kosher turkeys, both fresh and frozen, are usually available at supermarkets. If you can't find them, you can order one online through Kosher Express or Wise Organic Pastures.

Kosher Turkey, Frozen
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