Finding Tom Turkey


Q: Why did the turkey cross the road?A: Because he knew how to—he was a free range turkey

Free Range: A method of farming where the animals are not kept in cages but are allowed to roam freely and feed on grass. Not to be confused with free run turkeys who are free to wander around inside an enclosed structure, such as a barn.

If you are thinking about a Thanksgiving bird, you might be wondering about free run, free range, organic or frozen, special order, the butcher, delivery or supermarket DIY.

Of course, we have some answers to your questions and a few places where we know you can find what you need.

First, let’s clarify the options. Besides free range and free run, there are organic and naturally raised turkeys, usually sold through a butcher or specialty shop. Certified organic farms do not allow any pesticides or fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics in the animals’ feed and the soil has to be approved for three years to receive the ‘stamp’. (Note that some small farms choose not to get certified because of the expense and the ‘three year rule’.) Animals raised in these environments are called ‘naturally raised’ or ‘traditionally farmed’.

You can sometimes find frozen free range or free run turkeys at the supermarket, but if you are looking to buy fresh, you should go early next week as that is when they will be in and you’ll have more choice in sizes. The supermarket variety are usually from Ontario or Quebec.

Our preference is always to buy local, and since there are lots of great farms in Ontario, we’re going to our favourite local butcher and making sure the turkey we order grew up close to home. With so many good butchers in the T-Dot, you shouldn’t have any trouble, but here are a few of our faves:

The Healthy Butcher is located uptown at Avenue and Eglinton and downtown on Queen West. Besides its amazing selection of organic meats and ready made meals, the service is excellent and the staff is very knowledgeable. Browse around for some additions to your feast because they sell more than just the meat.


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