How to Buy Turkey: Organic, Heirloom, Kosher and More
Buying the right turkey can mean the difference between a good Thanksgiving and a legendary Thanksgiving. But the plethora of options out there can be daunting, especially as you sort through the lingo of different labels. Rest assured, whether you’re shopping for a specific size or certification, we can help. Here, Whole Foods Market Global Meat Buyer and third-generation butcher Theo Weening offers his thoughts and tips on buying the perfect bird.
What Kind of Turkey Should You Buy?
Whether classic or kosher, heirloom or organic, all of the fresh and frozen turkeys we sell meet our Quality Standards. All options are Animal Welfare Certified (except kosher turkeys), which requires third-party auditing of farms for over 100 animal welfare standards. And, like all meat and poultry in the department, the animals must be raised with no antibiotics ever, and no animal by-products in feed. We know our suppliers; we know how they grow their birds.
Here are the kinds of turkeys you’ll see when shopping our Meat department. Kosher, heirloom and heritage birds may not be available in every store, so be sure to contact your location ahead of time.
Classic turkeys: These tasty, tender turkeys are a great choice for value, quality and flavor. Plus, they’re Animal Welfare Rated, contain no added hormones and no antibiotics, ever.
Organic turkeys: These birds get organic, Non-GMO feed and are given access to fresh air and the outdoors.
Kosher turkeys: Rubbed with kosher salt inside and out, Kosher birds are checked by specially trained rabbinical inspectors to make sure they’re processed in accordance with kosher standards. The kosher salt preseasons the bird and gives it extra flavor.
Heritage turkeys: These turkeys are leaner with a smaller meat-to-bone ratio and can be very flavorful.
Heirloom turkeys: A little bigger than heritage turkeys, heirloom turkeys are still really flavorful. Plus, there's lots of great dark meat. I’ve been on a bronze heirloom kick for the past couple of years.
Brined turkeys: We’ve marinated these birds in a seasoned brine for moist, flavorful meat. If I want to fry a turkey, I go with brined.
Turkey breasts: Feeding a smaller group? Give these a try. Turkey breasts are easy to brine and take less time to prepare than a whole turkey. We offer bone-in, organic bone-in and boneless options.
Looking for a speedy, stress-free alternative? We also offer a variety of fully cooked birds, including classic roast turkeys and smoked turkeys. Just heat and carve.
Fresh Turkey vs. Frozen Turkey
Is there a difference? Yes. Thanksgiving is a special meal, so consider buying a fresh turkey. We sell fresh turkeys during Thanksgiving — I think the flavors and texture are just so much better (but a frozen turkey will still be delicious).
How Much Turkey Should You Buy?
I love having turkey leftovers, so I recommend going for more than what you really need. Rule of thumb is 1.5 – 2 pounds per person, but I’d get an 18- to 20-pounder for six people. Keep in mind that a 30-pound bird might not be as tender, so consider two smaller ones if you have a large group.
Not Sure Which Turkey is Right for Your Table?
Just ask the butcher behind the counter at your store. They love talking turkey — and they’ll be happy to help you find the best bird for you based on size, flavor and more.