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Nov 16, 2008 10:17 AM

Is fresh organic turkey worth the price?

It's my first year ever to have thanksgiving and I'm excited and nervous about doing it right. I ordered a turkey from the turkey farm stand at Grand Army Plaza farmer's market in Brooklyn, at 2.99/lb. I told some people the price and they thought it was very overpriced. Having never bought a turkey, I didn't know any better. My question is, is there a big difference between frozen and fresh? I'd prefer organic, both in terms of hormones and free range (like to think the poor guy had a decent life until, well, until I had him slaughtered), but I can probably get a decent priced frozen organic turkey at Fairway. What do you think, is fresh worth the expense?

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  1. If you're a person who pre-disposed to it; there can be a lot of pressure on making and serving your first Thanksgiving meal. Keeping it simple and using recipes form sources you can trust, and/or from people who's food you have eaten and loved will really help. Because we almost always ate "all together", I never minded making my home Thanksgivings a half-potluck, where I asked and encouraged the people who were coming to bring whatever dish they weren't gonna be able to live without haha.
    As far as the bird goes; assuming you're gonna by an organic turkey (good for you!);
    fresh will be easier and more delicious, but frozen will be great too - it's all up to the recipe and the cook ;o) I do think a digital read-out temperature gauge (oven and bird) with a long probe is a must. Just remember to keep it as simple as you can. make as much as you can ahead of time, and ask for help (especially with the gravy!!) from people who love you and who aren't control freaks ;o)

    1. One thing to keep in mind is that organic does not entail that the turkey is free range. It'll have more room than an industrial turkey, but won't necessarily be wandering idyllic pastures. If you haven't yet, you might want to ask the farmer that sold you the turkey about his/her farming practices, and the conditions the turkey's been in. And if you're considered a switch to Fairway, ask there as well. Not all organic birds are created equal - not just because of the fresh/frozen thing, but also because of the conditions in which they are raised.

      Personally, I'd take a frozen pastured turkey over a fresh barn-raised one, even if both were organic. But that's a reflection of my particular concerns and tastes. The more you know about the birds you're considering, the more comfortable you'll be making a choice (whatever that choice is).

      1 Reply
      1. re: chloe103

        True. Many birds touted as "free range" never leave the coop/barn. Regulations state that they have to have access to the outdoors (like a tiny doorway through which many never pass), not that they actually roam in open pastures.

      2. The Whole Foods where I live has organic turkeys for upwards of $4.49/lb. No way I'd pay that. Yours sounds much more reasonable.

        1. I don't want to seem unresponsive BUT at 72 as a
          VERY experienced cook i think the following:
          i have never had a fresh organic turkey that compared in quality (eating wise) to a frozen Marval or Butterball at 47 to 97 cents per lb. These are pre basted/ brined birds.
          For years i got as a gift fresh organic birds. Until i started brineing them, friends and family were unimpressed.
          In serving food, i frankly and shamelessly don't care if the bird, lamb or veal calf was " happy"
          before it's demise.
          Of course, if this factor is important to you, fine.
          We pursue the industrial production of critters because most of us prefer the eating quality of the resulting product.
          I enjoy in my varied social circle a broad range of individuals ranging from those most concerned with animal welfare or healthful preparation to those more concerned with palatibilty.
          If one is less interested in the eating quality of an animal product than in it's welfare or eating quality ,that is your choice but don't invite me for an "evolved" dinner.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mr jig

            I promise, Dick.

            I am hardly as strict about source and practice in my food as I'd like to be; but knowing the practices of the top US animal food manufacturers, I have mostly chosen to stop buying theirs product for use in my kitchen. I think most people have no idea how their Butterball turkey, or any of their industrialized food creatures, gets to table; and that their appetite for the products might change if they did. Companies pursue their fast, cheap and easy, non-humane and almost exclusively non-union practices to improve the bottom line for the company, not because people prefer how a Hormel pig product tastes. What I want to know is why you would continue to accept and serve a gift you thought was so heinously second rate - is it because you are a gracious friend? I hope so.

            1. re: EmoryJ

              I've cooked both fresh and frozen organic turkeys with good results. If you do get a frozen turkey, be mindful that it requires a good long time to thaw. Have a lovely holiday.

          2. If you can afford it. Local. Organic. Every time! It is always better in so many ways. Good for you.

            1 Reply
            1. re: keith2000

              You are going to have to brine it yourself however.