Asked and Answered: Free Range vs. Regular Turkeys

I am preparing to purchase my turkey for Thanksgiving and am wondering what the difference is between free range and regular turkeys. I know that the free range turkeys are more expensive and I was wondering if they are worth the price difference.

Actually, one of the most respected chef’s schools in the world is ambiguous on the issue of free range turkeys. One of the major differences in free range turkeys and those that are not free range is the way that they are treated on the farm. Those that are truly free range have generally fewer chemicals injected to promote fast growth. The FDA has few requirements to be considered free range and some turkeys are only allowed to roam free for a very small portion of the day. Unless a consumer knows where the turkeys available for purchase are raised, there are few ways to definitively determine if the turkeys are truly free range. In many cases, the term is used more as a marketing concept to allow for a higher price point. Truly free range turkeys may be a little tastier and healthier, however this is a case of buyer beware that the turkey being purchased may or may not be truly free range.