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How to Choose a Thanksgiving Turkey

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2010

Fresh, frozen, heritage, organic -- with so many types of turkeys out there, how do you know which is the right bird for you?

To ensure that everyone is well fed, your first big decision should be the size of the turkey. A good rule of thumb is 1 to 2 pounds of poultry per person, and 2 pounds per person if you want plenty of leftovers.

As for the type of bird you choose, consider the options available in your area and figure out which of the following makes the most sense for your celebration.

Regular Turkey
The most common turkey sold in the country, the regular commercial supermarket turkey is widely available and the most affordable option. Prices average around $1.05 per pound. These turkeys are often sold frozen, so make sure to factor in thaw time if you buy a frozen bird. A 16-pound turkey will take about four days to thaw in the refrigerator.

Natural Turkey
To be labeled "natural," a turkey must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients or added colors. Natural turkeys are slightly more expensive than regular turkeys, and they're often sold fresh.

Organic Turkey
USDA-certified organic poultry must comply with national organic standards in its production and processing, and must contain 95 percent organic ingredients. Organic turkeys can range in price from $2.29 to $3.99 per pound.

Heritage Turkey
Heritage birds are rare indigenous breeds like the Standard Bronze or Bourbon Red, and  they're often smaller, with a richer, gamier flavor. Heritage turkeys are more expensive than other types -- averaging around $5 per pound -- but buying heritage breeds supports biodiversity.

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