Organic Turkey vs. Regular Turkey: Differences & Which Is Better

Organic Turkey vs. Regular Turkey
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Organic and regular turkey will more likely than not taste almost the same depending on how you cook them, so you may not notice any difference flavor-wise. Still, they are different. Since I like to know where my food comes from and since the holidays are nearing, I decided to investigate. So, what is the difference between an organic and a regular turkey, and which is better?

Regular and organic turkeys differ in terms of raising and feeding the turkeys, which is where the rest of the differences stem from. The labeling requirements are different, as well as the potential impact they have on you. 

Generally, organic and regular turkeys are likely to taste the same, so you may not even notice a difference. I’ve made a detailed comparison between them, and I’m now sharing my conclusions with you in this article. 

Treatment and Feeding Practices

Organic turkeys are known for being raised according to strict farming standards. While raising turkeys to produce organic turkey meat, a great deal of care is taken to treat the animals with the utmost respect. The turkeys are usually raised out of the cages outdoors, move naturally, and are fed with organic feed, meeting the turkeys’ nutritional requirements. 

The turkeys are left to roam and feed freely, meaning they aren’t force-fed. Also, turkeys’ feed is free from synthetic pesticides and hormones, as well as any GMO substances or antibiotics. 

The turkeys are supervised by a veterinarian and are given antibiotics only when needed. Some farms completely ban the use of antibiotics and chemicals in the feed, but others restrict their use. Still, the farm needs to meet specific criteria to be considered an organic farm, so even if there is a certain use of artificial ingredients, the turkeys are still organic. 

Regular turkeys are also known as conventionally raised turkeys in meat-producing farms. They usually have limited moving space and access to fields or roaming spaces. They are not treated as well as organic turkeys and are primarily kept in cages or confined spaces. 

They are typically fed conventional feed that is likely to contain GMOs, synthetic pesticides, and herbicides. The use of antibiotics and hormones is greater compared to organic farming practices. A veterinarian doesn’t so regularly supervise regular turkeys, and they aren’t as nurtured. 

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Influence on Taste, Color, and Size

Regular Turkeys Are Coarser and Fattier.

The taste of organic turkeys depends on factors such as the quality of organic feed and the turkey’s ability to exercise and move, in general. Since organic turkey feed consists of grains, most commonly soy, as well as animal protein, organic turkey meat is leaner and more tender. 

Because organic turkeys have more moving space and live stress-free, their meat is believed to be of higher quality with lower fat content than the regular turkey. The color is more natural, with a smooth and even texture. The feed quality dictates the color and texture of the organic turkey, but generally, organic turkey feed produces natural-looking turkeys. 

The size of organic turkeys depends on their age, but they are never of unnatural size for the age of the turkey. Whenever I’ve cooked an organic turkey, I can predict the size since I have never handled an organic turkey that looks unnatural. 

On the other hand, regular turkeys aren’t fed organic feed, which impacts every aspect of the meat. Moreover, they don’t have that much space to move around and are, therefore, not as lean as organic turkeys. 

Regular turkeys tend to be fattier and coarser than organic turkeys. Their meat isn’t as tender and is usually hard to chew, which isn’t the case with organic turkey. The color of regular turkeys varies depending on the specific producer and the quality of the feed they use. 

It can have a natural color, but it may also seem grayish, dark, or too pale. 

Price and Availability

Price is another aspect in which organic and regular turkeys differ. The organic method of turkey raising is more expensive, and therefore, the price is higher. Regular turkeys are cheaper to raise, and the price reflects that. 

The price difference between organic and regular turkeys is pretty big, almost double. 

When it comes to availability, organic turkeys are less available than regular turkeys. Since regular turkeys are cheaper to raise than organic ones, they are produced in more significant numbers, making them more prevalent at the stores. 

Still, organic turkeys are also widely available, and you can find them in the shops, online, or buy them directly from the farm. 

I genuinely appreciate the fact that there is a selection of turkeys I can choose from, so whether organic or regular, I always come home with a turkey if that’s what I went for.

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Cooking Time and Methods

Cooking time and methods are one aspect where organic and regular turkeys are the same. You can cook them the same way and with the same ingredients. The taste might be different, but that can highly depend on the sides and spices, and it doesn’t occur solely due to the way the turkey has been raised. 

The cooking time mainly depends on the size of the turkey, but regular turkeys may need slightly more time to cook compared to organic turkeys of the same size. 

Potential Impacts

Organic turkeys are considered to be the healthier kind, so it is recommended that you use them instead of regular turkeys. Regular turkeys contain artificial substances, possibly hormones, and antibiotics, so they may have a particular negative impacts. [1]

Still, considering that regular turkeys are significantly cheaper than organic, they are more available and more commonly used. The good news is that turkey isn’t a regular meal, and you probably have it on certain occasions. 

I like to treat my people to a turkey on birthdays or holidays, but even then, I’ve skipped the tradition and made something else. So, whether you have an organic or a regular turkey, you probably don’t have it so often for it to have a negative impact on you. [2]

Before diving into the nutritional details, please review our Nutritional Disclaimer page for important context and clarifications.

Here’s more information on what exactly makes a turkey organic.

Which Is Better, Regular or Organic Turkey?

Organic turkey is a clear winner if you’re looking for higher meat quality. Still, regular turkeys are not a bad bet either — even though they are fattier and coarser, they are also a lot cheaper and more available.

Since there really is not much difference in the cooking methods, both options are good for your holiday feast! However, whenever I can, I prefer to choose an organic turkey.

How about you? Do you also prefer one over the other? Excited to read about your thoughts in the comments below!