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) two Eat Well Guide farms - Ruegseggers Farms and JenEhr Family Farm - that raise heritage turkeys. Slow Food Chicago has this guide for a variety of purveyors in the area so you can also shop local!

West Coast:

A similar model to Heritage Foods in California, Marin County's Belcampo Meat Company lets you order your pastured turkey online and then pick it up the week of Thanksgiving at their scheduled “Meat-Up.” Slow Food Russian River is collaborating with the Sonoma County 4H on the Heritage Turkey Project 2013. 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.

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. Saugatuck Craft Butchery in Westport, Connecticut, offers sustainably raised turkeys from BN Ranch.

South:

Belmont Butchery, in Richmond, Virginia, also takes orders for heritage Thanksgiving turkeys. Green Acres Farm in McDavid, Florida also has turkeys for sale who are "currently foraging in an acorn-rich pasture."

Everywhere/Online:

Heritage Foods USA purchases heritage turkeys from Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Kansas and Leaping Waters Farm in Virginia, available for purchase online through their website and delivered right to your door.

Local Harvest also offers an array of heritage turkeys that can be delivered nationwide (or can be picked up locally.)

Find a Farmers Market through the USDA. It’s late in the season, but 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.

Responses to "Your Guide to Finding a Sustainably Raised Turkey"

  1. Alisia Bergsman

    For those in the Charlotte, NC area, I recently wrote an article about local farms that raise pastured turkeys, on the blog Charlotte Locavore. Eat Wild is another good website to find local pastured meat including turkeys.

  2. Erin McCarthy

    Hi Steve, Thanks for your comment. I recommended Eat Well Guide in the Everywhere section because we list farmers, farmers markets and stores all over the US and Canada. Those suggestions weren

  3. Steve Hoad

    I am surprised at all of the big names used in this posting. Whole Foods, Heritage USA, Marys Turkeys all include a significant amount of fuel use in the shipping of their turkeys. I would have thought the Eat Well Guide would have been your first suggestion for any region of the country. Kind of disappointed, these big guys have a good enough advertising budget.

  4. Heather Houlahan

    I’ll have a FEW pastured broad-breasted bronze and Narragansett turkeys available, fresh, for local buyers in the Pittsburgh area. Pick up at the farm. Check Brandywine Farm on Facebook for information. $2.50/pound for birds 22 pounds and under; $2.00/pound for birds over 22 pounds.

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