The Christmas Turkey Organic Or Not

Photo courtesy of and Tom Curtis

The Christmas Turkey – Organic Or Not?

I have been debating this year over whether or not to buy an organic turkey for Christmas. For one thing, they are quite a bit more expensive than the traditionally raised turkeys.

For years, our family would roast a turkey at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The cheaper the better – in fact, some years they were sold by the local grocer on a “buy one, get one free” deal, how great was that?  But my years of research on the meat industry has finally stopped me thinking that way

Dastardly Conditions and Unhealthy Injections

Turkeys these days are raised in extremely crowded conditions on factory farms. While living in these crowded conditions they are fed an unnatural diet of genetically modified grains (a whole ‘nother subject for another day) and given antibiotics and added growth hormones.

The antibiotics are needed to combat the deadly diseases that run rampant in these filthy factory farms. The birds are raised in such tight quarters and unhealthy living conditions that the antibiotics are needed to keep them alive.  The growth hormones make them grow faster and larger than nature intended. This helps the farmers sell bigger birds (more money) at a faster rate (again, more money).

I object to that, especially since my research is turning up information that the antibiotics and growth hormones are increasing our cancer rates.

Organic Is Definitely Better

The best option is to buy an organic turkey, because they have to be certified by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and in order to get that certification they must be raised under strict guidelines, given no antibiotics, no growth hormones, fed only organic feed, and given access to outdoors.  Many believe that this makes for better tasting meat, but for me the better pay-off is that the bird is treated better and we don’t get the chemical exposure.

I’ve learned that “given access to outdoors” is a term that is open to interpretation.  Even though a turkey is USDA organic, that does not necessarily mean that it is able to be outside all day in the open – it might only spend 10 minutes a day outside.

If you really want to know that your turkey is humanely raised, you will need to ask questions. Ask the butcher or the person in charge of the meat department at your local grocery store or health food shop.  Keep asking questions until you get your answer.  If you are really interested in buying the freshest and most humanely-raised bird, buy it from a local farmer. This is by far the best option available.

Yes, these more specialized turkeys cost more — in many cases, LOTS more.  But we have a duty to ourselves and our health and to the creatures we raise, don’t you think?

Here’s a good article on the subject from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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