When it comes to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, many Washingtonians want to give their families the best turkeys around. The good news is that in D.C., you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh and local turkeys that are raised without growth hormones or routine antibiotic use. Turkey choices can be all natural, organic or even heritage breeds. For busy Washingtonians, the preparations can range from a prepared turkey to a fully cooked dinner. The top places to buy a turkey in D.C. will have what you need, but be sure to order sooner rather than later for the best selection.
1 E. Washington St.
Middleburg, VA 20117
Ayrshire Farm is known for its high-quality local meat. It offers turkeys that are raised exclusively on pasture and given certified organic feed for a gamey taste that is second to none. The Ayrshire white turkeys are new this year. They are a cross breed of heritage birds like the bourbon red or bronze with the midget white. While you can get a frozen turkey from them that will be shipped to you, if you’re in the mood for a drive to the countryside, it offers fresh turkeys at its farm store in Middleburg, Va., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of your choosing. Order quickly as they are on a first come, first served basis and the seven- to nine-pound and 10- to 13-pound turkeys are already sold out. Expect to pay roughly $155 to $195 for the large turkeys Ayrshire has left.
10323 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, MD 20814
Raw, prepped or cooked, Balducci’s has Thanksgiving ready to go. D.C. customers may order raw turkeys in natural or organic. These turkeys are ready for whatever Washingtonians want to do with them. They are both certified humanely raised and fed an all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics or growth hormones. They range from 10 pounds up to even 28 pounds. The natural turkeys are from Plainville Farms in New York. The organic ones are from Eberly Farms in Pennsylvania where they are raised by Mennonites that feed them certified organic grain and pure spring water. They are also allowed to move about and forage. For those that are extremely busy on Thanksgiving, there are two already-prepped options that serve six to eight people. One is a fully prepped turkey that comes already cleaned in a roasting pan with an herb blend of sage, rosemary and thyme, as well as a mirepoix (a mixture of carrots, celery and onions) that help to keep the bird moist. The next option is the already-cooked turkey that takes about two hours to reheat, but may be eaten cold for those that want to get straight to the turkey sandwiches. It also comes with extra herbs and a mirepoix. While Balducci’s prefers 24 hours to complete orders, it is open on Thanksgiving, so in the event that a last-minute debacle would keep you from a roast turkey, call Balducci’s and the folks here will do everything they can to help. This happened last year when a Washingtonian woman had her oven break on Thanksgiving and Balducci’s managed to get her a cooked turkey in time for dinner, so you know it’s legit.
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3831 Mt. Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, VA 222305
Many Washingtonians want a turkey that is humanely raised and fed only the very best. MOM’s Organic Market offers two types of turkeys for discerning Washingtonians. The first is its best-selling turkey, the locally raised Maple Lawn Farm turkeys from a family owned farm in Fulton, Md., that supports sustainability by being solar powered. While they are not certified organic, these are fresh turkeys that are free-range and raised on a vegetarian diet free of antibiotics or hormones. The certified-organic turkeys are Eberly’s Organic from Pennsylvania. To guarantee yourself a turkey, it’s important to preorder. No deposit is required, and pick up days will be Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 19 to 21. Orders may be placed by phone, email or in person. With locations around Maryland and Virginia, visit its website for the location nearest you.
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6712 Old Dominion Drive
McLean, VA 22101
As the name implies, this butcher specializes in organic meats, and its turkeys are no different. It offers fresh Maryland-raised, free-range, all-natural turkeys from eight to 30 pounds for $3.49 per pound. Then there are the fresh, free-ranged, certified organic birds that are plump and juicy without brining for $4.49 per pound. This year, there’s a new turkey in town. The Kelly’s bronze turkeys are the best turkeys in England and are being raised for the first time here in the states just outside of Richmond, Va. Kelly bronze is a heritage breed that has a very full flavor from being raised outdoors where the birds can forage. These turkeys will be sold for $9.99 per pound. If you’re not expecting many people for dinner, there’s always the option to buy a local free-range bone-in turkey breast for $5.99 per pound. The Organic Butcher also sells its own herb-blends and a brining kit if you’d like to brine your own turkey.
Pure Meadows Lane
Swoope, VA 24479
Washingtonians are fortunate enough to live within driving distance of Polyface Farms. Made famous by Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the movie “Food, Inc.” Joel Salatin is the quintessential model of sustainable food. He considers himself to be a grass farmer, first and foremost. Take care of the land and the land will take care of you, he says. With that mentality, Salatin rotates his cattle on pasture every day. Then a few days later the broad-breasted white turkeys are moved onto the pasture by a portable hoophouse called the Gobbledygo to happily pick through the cattle droppings where they gobble up bugs and grass to supplement their local grain feed. The result is a widely flavorful bird that is a treasure on any table. A deep believer in buying local, Polyface will not ship its products anywhere, so you’ll have to trek out to the farm or purchase through one of the Metropolitan Buying Clubs. Turkeys are frozen with the heart, liver and neck and are $3.25 per pound.