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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Greetings Thrifty Friends,

When you are buying your Thanksgiving bird this week, you will encounter a variety of labels and prices. Labels like 'Heritage' and 'Free-Range' can cost you significantly more, and it may be worth it to you, but before you go blowing an extra $2, $3, or even $4 per pound over a frozen Butterball, you should know what you're buying.

Please scroll down for a easy guide to what all of those different types and labels actually mean.

Keep pinchin' those pennies,

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Natural: According to the USDA, turkey containing no artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient and is minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled "natural." The label must explain the use of the term "natural" (e.g., no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed).

No Antibiotics: These turkeys were raised without antibiotics. Poultry antibiotics can be passed through to the consumer, and can cause bacterial resistance.

No Hormones: This is a label you can ignore. Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry.

Organic: Organic turkeys are free-range birds that have fed strictly on organic grains that contain no pesticides, chemicals, hormones or antibiotics.

Fresh: This label means your bird has never been kept at a temperature below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Purchase a fresh turkey no earlier than two days before Thanksgiving. If you must pick it up earlier, be sure to freeze the turkey until you're ready to cook it.

Frozen: This means that the turkey has been flash frozen at 0 degrees F, which will ensure freshness when it is defrosted.

Heritage: Heritage turkeys are an older breed of bird that closely resembles what the Pilgrims would have eaten at their Thanksgiving. These turkeys have a slower growth rate, and must have a long outdoor lifespan, as well as the ability to mate naturally. They also have "superior flavor, texture and tenderness."

Free-Range: Don't be fooled by this label. "Free-range" only means that the turkeys must have access to the outdoors, but does not necessarily mean they can roam wild and live a life like a conventional bird.

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