Do you need a heritage turkey or will conventional do?
In the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we roasted more than 20 turkeys, including all-natural and conventional birds, while preparing our Thanksgiving story and found that conventional birds (with added salt solution) do stay moister, but if you’re watching your sodium intake, avoid them.
Certified organic poultry standards prohibit all use of antibiotics and hormones. (Hormone use in poultry production—even conventional—has been banned since 1959.) All feed is vegetarian and certified organic—including pastureland—which means that it is not treated with pesticides or herbicides and cannot be genetically modified. Animals have access to pastureland, sunlight and enough land for exercise, and grazing is done in a manner that does not degrade the land through erosion or contamination. Animal cloning is forbidden. Localharvest.org lists local farms and online sources for organic turkeys.
Since USDA-certified organic labeling requires that animals be traced from birth to slaughter (including feed sources and medications), problems related to animal diseases and human foodborne illness can be easily traced to the source. Keep in mind: Organic doesn’t necessarily mean grass-fed; however, certified organic livestock generally graze on open-range land three to six months longer than conventionally raised livestock to reach market size.