Why would I want to feed my family an Organic Turkey?
If you are considering purchasing an Organic Turkey this year for your family / friends congratulations! Nothing speaks louder about how much you love the people you will be serving, then by providing a healthy turkey that is chemical (herbicide & pesticide), drug (pharmaceutical i.e. antibiotic), and GMO* (genetically modified organisms) free.
*In Europe it is labeled OMG.
If you are still on the fence because you see there is a huge difference between the price, buy the Organic bird and don’t cheap out. First of all, this holiday only comes once a year, and there is no point trying to save a few dollars on such a gathering.
We served many Thanksgiving dinners and we were always able to justify the added expense of organic even though our food budget was always very small. We can taste the difference, organic food is superior, and the health of our family / friends is very important to us, even if it is just one healthy meal they eat each year.
As time has passed, our loved ones and friends slowly disappeared from the dinner table, but not the wonderful memories, so make each gathering count.
So to recap, if you want the occasion to not only be memorable, but you want the peace of mind to know that on your watch, you only served the healthiest, cleanest, tastiest foods money can buy go organic!
It goes without saying, that many people you might be serving dinner to do not eat healthy normally (i.e. they eat processed foods and other pesticide / herbicide laden foods, etc.) so obviously this one meal will most likely not turn them into health nuts immediately and this one meal is probably not going to cure cancer overnight.
However it is a positive step forward and you can be an example and a light. If it was your job to prepare the royal feast for the King’s table, well I would hope you would dare only use the finest ingredients! Treat your friends and family this year, like the king!
Please do not get confused with the use of the word “natural”. Natural is a buzz-word that masquerades as a healthy substitute to organic, and these days it has been abused and is used generally into lulling you into paying slightly more for the same low quality, commercially grown bird you will find in the grocery store. It really is evil genius marketing. You think you are paying form something healthier, and they know you have trouble justifying paying the full price for the top quality organic product, but you will spend a little more and sleep better at night believing you paid for something slightly better.
These are things to consider when purchasing organic:
Where do I buy my bird:
With advanced notice, you can pay a small, local farm that only grows organic turkey’s and speak with them to ensure they are adhering to the best practices.
The next choice is too purchase a bird from a quality grocery chain, and if you have time you can check the growers website and at least see if you like what they have to say and email or call them if you have the time.
Why is free range so important?:
The bird should be free range fed and the farm should be only growing or composting with organic products thus providing a clean environment. In the case where the farm is providing feed in addition to free range grazing, be aware that unless they are preparing their own very specialized Organic feed, it is almost a guarantee that any commercially prepared feed will contain GMO material, usually at a minimum soy, corn and grains that are not GMO free.
Free range also ensure the birds get to live a healthy stress free life and not be rammed together in a cage, treated poorly and contaminated with the constant sickness and pain the is created in such an environment.
Remember, you can buy a bird that is just organic, grown in a pen, and fed substandard Organic food. This obviously is not the highest quality organic Turkey money can buy, but most likely the grocery store will still charge you and arm and a leg for it. However, it is still better than conventionally grown and still the right decision over the lowest quality conventionally grown turkey.
Why are there so many considerations to make when buying organic?:
Most people spend ridiculous amounts of time researching a new car, home or even a new cell phone. Really this is no more difficult when you become comfortable with the few things you must be aware of. It becomes easy to go through your checklist to determine if your food is of the highest quality. The real problem is not enough people are supporting local farmers growing organically, so it is a supply issue with demand constantly on the rise and limited supply for those seeking a truly healthy lifestyle. Thus being said, factor in the addition of an expensive ongoing certification process, the food can often cost more than 2x time conventionally grown food.
Tip: Most people are unaware of recent studies that are continually proving organic foods are often many times more nutritious than conventionally grown foods that contain, hormones, high dosages of antibiotics, GMO feed in their gut, and other major health issues the animal often suffered from. Unless of course you are large agro-biz in which case all your marketing says there is no difference and they are going save the whole world!!!
“Dad can you please pass me another piece of the disease laden, pharmaceutical loaded turkey, full of GMO gut bacteria that will be passed into my gut, it looks so good!”
Thus your actually getting quite a value for your dollar when you buy quality organic food. And if you still don’t believe me, then why do you think the current president, the first lady and their family have made no secret of the fact they only eat organically. Also you can catch Prince Charles on the BBC showing off his giant organic farm and commitment to it? Is it possible they know something we don’t?
How to cook an Organic Turkey vs. a Conventional Turkey
There a couple things you have to be aware of, when dealing with any free range, healthy animal.
A free range Turkey, is going to be leaner, and contain less fat. Because it hasn’t been artificially stimulated in any manner, the meat will cook faster.
Definitely use the cooking time on the package as guide, but also be on the alert that a your organic turkey of the same size as last years conventionally grown turkey will cook faster.
Tip: Do not spend tons of money on an Organic bird and freeze it. In fact if you buy it fresh, it will be so much better, and cook more perfectly. Thus being said, make sure if it is frozen that you allow a sufficient amount of time for it to defrost in the refrigerator. This is a big key to your cooking success, and it usually takes much longer than you think.
I have experimented with so many techniques over the years. Cooking the bird upside down, which made for a great bird but was impossible to cut and flip the bird, and even maybe to juicy as the top meat bastes in massive juice for some. I used an injector to load the meat with juice, and of course I would pour liquid over the bird often to try and get it perfect.
Over the years of experimenting, I am convinced that the most important things are:
1) An Organic Turkey
2) A dedicated shallow roasting pan w/ lid designed to cook a turkey
3) A fresh orgainc turkey foremost, and second a completely defrosted organic turkey if previously frozen.
4) A chef who keeps a close eye on the time, checking for doneness at proper intervals
5) Keep it simple.
If the bird is kosher, it may already contain substantial salt (even it if it isn’t so you must be aware of this.) I prefer a kosher, organic, free-range bird. Kosher mean it was killed in a humane fashion. Many people think Kosher is the same, or that only the EU in its infinite wisdom can define what is humane. Go to a slaughter house some day, and you be the judge. In the end it is your choice but be aware also that many Turkey’s that contain small defects do not receive the Kosher stamp. I like having a second set of eyes watching out for my family and friends.
Simple Cooking Instructions:
A) Place the turkey in a shallow pan (2 – 2 ½ inches high), breast side up.
B) Secure the legs by tucking the ankle joints into the pocket of skin at the tail end. Tuck wing tips back under the shoulders of bird (called “akimbo”).
C) Add 1 cup of Organic chicken broth / stock to the bottom of the pan to steam the bird in it. If you can’t get Organic, don’t use non-organic products on an expensive Organic bird. I recommend 3/4 cup of water ¼ cup of olive oil and a ½ teaspoon of salt as a substitute.
D) Brush the turkey with Organic Virgin Olive Oil before roasting, with optional basting again every 30-45 minutes of cooking. Avoid basting in the last hour, when browning the skin.
E) Cover with the roasting pan lid, or aluminum foil if your pan has no lid.
F) Cook using guide time on wrapper. Is it done: Juices should be clear. Pierce the turkey with a fork in several places; juices should be clear with no trace of pink. NOTE: The old-fashioned way of wiggling the leg to see if it’s loose will give you an indication that the turkey is ready, but unfortunately, by the time the leg is truly loose, the turkey is sadly overcooked. The only reliable test for doneness is to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone. (Done Tempearture: 165 F)
G) Remove from oven and cover with lid or foil if you have no lid.
H) Let cool for at least 20 minutes. This is hard as everyone is hungry but it will make a big difference in flavor and ease of carving.
I) Stuffing, I have the best, and safest experience not stuffing the bird and cooking it separately, but basting it with a small amount of Turkey juice when I pull the lid off the bird after the first 1 to 1 ½ hours of cooking time have passed.
The following are approximate times are based on conventional birds and your organic lean bird will cook faster so keep an eye on it.
Approximate Turkey Cooking Times:
4 to 8 pounds………….1-1/2 to 3-1/4 hours
8 to 12 pounds…………….2-3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds……………3 to 3-3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds……………3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds……………4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds……………4-1/2 to 5 hours
8 to 12 pounds…………….3 to 3-1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds……………3-1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds……………4 to 4-1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds……………4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds……………4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours
Important Links Supporting this Article
Organic food has more nutrtition:
Obama and Family eat organic:
Prince Charles organic farm: