Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey Talk

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. And if you're like me, you're probably wondering where you can get the best turkey (both in taste and environmental impact), while doing the least damage to your wallet. So, I present to you your four local options for purchasing a turkey next week.


Hannaford wins in the price department, with the cheapest turkeys at $.69/lb. These turkeys are Hannaford's store brand, and at that cheap, I can't imagine they come from a happy place.

After the store brand, there's $.99/lb Shadybrook Farms turkeys, which are not free range and could come from several locations around the country. Their website's FAQ notes that their turkeys are growth-hormone and steroid free, as the USDA prevents the use of these in poultry.

Butterball turkeys are $1.29/lb at Hannaford, and a search of their website provided no information about how the turkeys were raised. But coming from Maryland, where the Eastern Shore is filled with Mountainaire, Perdue, and Allen's chicken farms, it's not a pretty sight (or smell).

The last and most expensive option at Hannaford is their natural and organic store brand, Nature's Place ($2.49/lb). I sometimes buy this option at Hannaford, but can't decide if their flowery prose really adds up to humanely treated animals or not. Hard to say unless you see it yourself (which they won't let you do, of course).

Whole Foods Market

The turkeys options at Whole Food Market are simple: brined ($2.99/lb) or not ($1.99/lb). The birds meet WFM's Farm Animal and Meat Quality Standards, which include no animal byproducts in turkey feed and no beak trimming.

Trader Joe's

The newest kid on the block is offering brined ($1.79) and Kosher turkeys ($2.29) for the holiday. Their TJ's brand turkeys are vegetarian fed, and receive no antibiotics, hormones, or artificial ingredients. Kosher turkeys are raised according to Kashrut, and does that make them automatically humanely raised and slaughtered? I'd love to hear from someone knowledgeable on the subject.

Rosemont Market

Turkeys at Rosemont are available to order (order soon!) and for pick up on Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday. The two options are Maine-ly Poultry ($3.79/lb) and Serendipity Acres ($4.99/lb). Both are free-range, with the latter being pasture-fed.

So, from cheapest to most expensive:
1) Hannaford Brand ($.69/lb)
2) Shadybrook Farms ($.99/lb
3) Butterball ($.99/lb)
4) Trader Joe's, brined ($1.79/lb)
5) Whole Foods, not brined ($1.99/lb)
6) Trader Joe's, Kosher ($2.29/lb)
7) Nature's Place ($2.49/lb)
8) Whole Foods, brined ($2.99/lb)
9) Maine-ly Poultry ($3.79/lb)
10) Serendipity Acres ($4.99/lb)

So while I'd love to be ordering my turkey from Rosemont, the thought of a $75 turkey makes me want to cry. I will probably shoot for the middle of the price range, picking out a 12-15 pounder that wasn't factory farmed.


  1. Kate--Thanks for the run down! We bought our turkey from a farmer's in Baltimore County--his birds are free range that eat mostly bugs. $2.49 a pound!

  2. Great post!! I wish I had that many grocery store options! I have been wondering what the ranges in prices would be.

  3. Woof. We ended up doing a 20 pound brined number from Whole Foods. I wish I'd seen your breakdown first.

  4. I went for pork belly from Neiman Ranch @ 2.99/#. I will, however, make some stuffing to make it somewhat holidayesque at home.

  5. Beth- you think that farmer still has turkeys?? email me!

    And KT for my dad's dinner last year we got one from trader joes! It was great!

  6. Great post! I follow several money saving blogs and they are so caught up with finding the lowest cost per pound that they ignore all issues of quality. I'd rather spring for the best quality, farm direct and cut down on portion size, especially when there are so many yummy Thanksgiving side dishes to fill my plate!

  7. what I am really wondering is what side dishes you will be having? and if your boyfriend will be eating the same dinner as my boyfriend? ;)

  8. Guess what all the turkeys are dead !! Do you think it makes any difference to the turkey ? ?
    Do you eat fish ? Beef ?
    OK OK, the animal should not be abused, but free range or not it's still dead when you stuff it in your mouth.

  9. What are you talking about!! it was .49 a pound at Plummers Market. .49 a pound at walmart too!! 25lbs for less than 11.00... I didn't see a deal there!!

  10. @Dan-- Obviously these were options in Portland for shoppers. If you want to post about the prices of the turkeys in surrounding communities, I'm sure others would appreciate your contribution.

    And, for what it's worth, the female Martha would probably rather do another stint in jail than ever consider buying her turkeys from Wal-Mart.