Know Your Bird: A Guide To Buying The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

With Halloween just around the corner, ordering a Thanksgiving turkey may seem like the last thing on your mind, but with local producers taking orders (and selling out) in October, now’s the time to order a special bird to crown your Thanksgiving table.

Hemlock Hill Farm

What you get: The Cortlandt Manor farm raises all-natural Broad Breasted White turkeys (the most common Thanksgiving breed). Their birds graze in pastures and are hormone- and preservative-free.

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Why it’s worth it: “Our turkeys are raised with their health and well-being and our customer’s health and well-being as a top priority. You know where it’s coming from, and you’re supporting your local farmer and community.”

Price/lb: $5.25

How to order: In person at the farm store, by phone, or by email. Visit for contact info.

John Boy’s Farm

What you get: Owner John Ubaldo raises two heritage breeds—White Holland and Bronze. The birds are pasture-raised and chemical-, drug-, and hormone-free.

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Why it’s worth it: “You are what you eat. These turkeys have been raised out on pasture and fed only non-GMO grains. They’re eating apples in the orchard right now and will be moved to a corn field in November…Not even going to go into the way they raise them for the supermarket.”

Price/lb: $6.25-$7.25

How to order: Orders can be placed by email only at starting November 1. Pickup is at the farm’s store, The Outpost, in Bedford, November 21-22, 24.

Photo by Ben Hider 

Stone Barns Center for Agriculture

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What you get: Choose from pasture-raised Broad Breasted Whites—which are fed a diet of grass, seeds, and insects—and Heritage breeds. Stone Barns routinely sells out within the first few days (sales open to the general public October 28).

Why it’s worth it: “Whichever bird you choose, you know it’s being raised the way a turkey should be—out on the fresh grass with the health of the animals and the soil at heart of our operation.”

Price/lb: $6.00 for Broad Breasted Whites, $10.00 for Heritage birds.

How to order: Visit and fill out a turkey request form.

Stew Leonard’s

What you get: No preorder required (though it doesn’t hurt). The store offers fresh turkeys from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and all-natural, free-range NAKED turkeys, which eat an all-vegetarian diet and are antibiotic- and hormone-free. Across its four locations, the store will sell nearly one million pounds of turkey.

Why it’s worth it: Stew Leonard Jr. serves one of his NAKED turkeys at Thanksgiving: “We like cooking this bird because it has 20 percent more breast meat and 55 percent less fat than regular turkeys!”

Price/lb: Not yet available

How to order: Just show up at the store or call ahead to reserve a bird.