Talking Turkey: Conventional vs Organic

Talking Turkey: Conventional vs Organic

When you choose your next turkey, what factors will you take into consideration? Do you want more meat or would you rather preserve an endangered breed? Do you know, understand the marketing gimmicks used by the industry to make you pay more? Organic turkeys are often in high demand; so if you choose to get one, you should order it now (if you haven’t already). Whole Foods/Amazon has a sale through November 26. <Click here >


Most of us are willing to pay more for a bird raised without added hormones, right? We want that thick, juicy breast meat, but don’t want biological repercussions within our own bodies.

What most of us don’t realize it’s illegal in the US to add hormones to poultry. Added hormones within our poultry is something we will probably never have to worry about. The packaging that says ‘no added hormones’ is simply a marketing ploy.


An organic turkey is antibiotic free.
Organic turkey farms use neither antibiotics nor feed that has not been certified organic.

Turkeys may start out antibiotic-free, but farmers may medicate an entire flock if a few birds get sick. Some growers keep separate flocks, raising turkeys without antibiotics until problems occur, then moving sick birds to another pen if they have to medicate. Others must euthanize sick birds to keep the rest of the flock safe.

An ongoing argument exists regarding the ethics of using antibiotics. While many farmers have announced that they will stop adding medication to daily feed, they hold that treating sick animals is the most humane way to raise meat. Eschewing all antibiotics means suffering of the animal, spread of disease, and euthanasia of sick animals before the other livestock can contract the illness.

Injected Additives

Self-basting or injected birds have been treated with a brine and/or a flavored injection to increase moisture retention and flavor. The fresh turkeys are injected with a basting solution made of salt water and “common household spices,”. Manufacturers are not required to share the specific ingredients/spices of their basting formula.

Don’t let the “Natural” label fool you

Unlike the word “organic” the word “natural” does not have a specific meaning and can mean many different things. In general, “natural” food does not contain artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or other additives. When you see the word “organic” on a label or a package that means the product was grown or made according to the strict standards (i.e. Without the use of toxic, persistent chemicals, GMOs, antibiotics or hormones) as established by the USDA.

Summary of Organic vs Conventional

Organic birds, one would imagine fields of open space with birds freely moving around. The use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, irradiation, sewage sludge, hormones, antibiotics and genetic engineering is strictly prohibited. However, being organic does not guarantee they are free ranged.The appeal of free-range turkeys is that they are raised with access to outdoor space so they can roam — many folks believe that this makes for better tasting meat.

Conventional broad breasted turkeys are in most cases caged, eat genetically modified grain, never see the light of day, and are given antibiotics, and injected with unknown solutions.

Free-range and organic turkeys are often in high demand; so if you choose to get one, you should order it now (if you haven’t already). Whole Foods/Amazon has a sale through November 26. <Click ad below>


THROUGH NOV 26, 2017


Have you eaten heritage or organic turkeys? Did you notice a flavor difference? 


Deciphering the Label Online RESOURCES:

USDA guidelines for conventional/organic turkey

Label Guide: Food Network

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