Your Guide to Finding a Sustainably Raised Turkey

turkey, Thanksgiving

Here's our newly updated guide to finding a sustainably raised turkey for your special holiday dinners. Remember to search the Eat Well Guide to locate farms, local co-ops and stores such as Whole Foods that sell pasture-raised and heritage turkeys.

If you're planning on serving turkey this Thanksgiving, have you ordered your bird yet? I'm guessing there are three possible reactions to this question: the self-assured nod of the well-versed foodie, the panicked "I've gotta get on that!" of the more forgetful among us and the "Why would I order one? I'm getting a Butterball from the grocery store." If that last one is you, you're certainly not alone, but we think you'd be better off choosing a pasture raised turkey or a heritage turkey. Traditional breeds are best suited to be raised in a sustainable manner and reproduce naturally, unlike the common Broad Breasted White found in industrial operations and, unfortunately, served at the majority of Thanksgiving dinners. In fact, heritage turkeys recently won in a taste test over conventional turkeys. So, now that you're convinced, where can you find one? Let's break it down by region:

Midwest:

A friend of mine living in Madison, Wisconsin, recently looked for help through Facebook by posing the following question: "Madison friends: any advice on where to buy a fresh local turkey for t-day?" She got many helpful responses, including (I was happy to see) the Eat Well Guide farm Ruegseggers Farms raising heritage turkeys. You can also find pasture raised turkeys in Leavenworth, Kansas, at Bryant Family Farm, delivering to pick-up locations around Kansas City, and at NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wisconsin . Slow Food Chicago has this guide for a variety of purveyors in the area, so you can shop local!

West Coast:

At Stokesberry Sustainable Farm in Olympia, Washington, you can buy turkey directly from the farm or from retailers listed on their website. Order your bird early and pick-up later from Lake View Farm in Halsey, Oregon . You can also find BN Ranch heritage turkey at numerous retailers through the San Francisco, California, area and beyond. Beyond Northern California, try Eat Wild's directory, which includes a clickable map so you can find the best locally-available bird for the big day. If you're interested in a nontraditional Thanksgiving spread, consider ordering goose or duck from Belcampo Meat Company in Marin County, California .

East Coast:

Mary's Turkeys sells organic, free range and heritage wholesale to many stores in the Northeast especially. Check the website to locate a store near you. Fleishers in Westport, Connecticut and New York City  offers organic, pasture-raised poultry. Get ready to order from Stone Barns if your turkey day will be anywhere near Pocantico Hills, New York - sales start on October 29th!

South:

Belmont Butchery, in Richmond, Virginia, also takes orders for heritage Thanksgiving turkeys. Prime Pasture Family Farm in Summerfield, Florida also has turkeys for sale with such great flavor from being raised outdoors you can reportedly "skip the gravy and cranberry sauce"

Everywhere/Online:

Heritage Foods USA purchases heritage turkeys from Frank Reese in Kansas, available for purchase online through their website and delivered right to your door.

Local Harvest and D'Artagnan also offer an array of heritage turkeys that can be delivered nationwide (or can be picked up locally.)

Find a Farmers Market through the USDA. Many are open year-round!

Search the Eat Well Guide to locate farms, local co-ops and stores such as Whole Foods that sell pasture-raised and heritage turkeys.