Looking for free-range organic turkeys in the Bay Area?

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Heritage turkeys (heirloom turkeys) make a comeback on holiday tables. (Photo courtesy of Laura Wrede.)

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Heritage turkeys (heirloom turkeys) make a comeback on holiday tables. (Photo courtesy of Laura Wred …

For many families both in the Bay Area and across the U.S., the traditional holiday dinner wouldn't be complete without a juicy roasted turkey. While there's no shortage of industrially raised turkeys in the larger chain grocery stores, organic turkeys are a little harder to find. Read on to find out where you can find organic, free-range turkeys around the Bay Area.

Where can you buy an organic turkey, and how do you choose the best?

With all the terms used to define a turkey - organic, pastured, free-range, free-range organic, and other "natural"-sounding terms - it's somewhat confusing.

According to the USDA, "organic" uses methods that "integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity."

One of the best, least confusing rating systems for organic, however, is the Global Animal Partnership 5-Step Program. Whole Foods Market incorporates this 5-Step program in their turkey selection.

With multiple Bay Area locations, Whole Foods has one of the best selections of turkeys available for the holidays, from natural turkeys to the coveted heirloom turkeys.

Julie Pratt, Redwood City's Whole Foods customer service supervisor and holiday table representative, said their most popular natural turkeys come from Diestel's Farm, including the heirloom turkeys that "customers swear by." She said it is the same as comparing an heirloom tomato to a store-bought vine tomato.

Why is an heirloom (or heritage) turkey so prized? Local Harvest states, "prized for their rich flavor and beautiful plumage, Heritage Turkeys are the ancestors of the common Broad-breasted White industrial breed of turkey that comprises 99.99% of the supermarket turkeys sold today."

Uncooked turkeys at Redwood City Whole Foods range from $2.29 per pound for Diestel's natural turkeys to $4.99 per pound for Diestel's heirlooms - a bargain, since heirlooms can go as high as $8.99 a pound, Pratt said.

Another favorite for organic turkeys is Lunardi's. Lunardi's Markets have six locations throughout the Bay Area. They have two choices: organic free-range and free-range turkeys.

San Jose's Bascom Avenue Lunardi's offers uncooked free-range turkeys at $2.69 per pound and organic free-range at $4.69 per pound. If you call the store ahead, they are able to order the size you need in case you're concerned they might run out.

Smaller and family-owned Bay Area stores for a variety of organic turkeys

Baron's Meat & Poultry

1650 Park St., Alameda, California

Berkeley Bowl

2020 Oregon St., Berkeley, California

Farmer Joe's Marketplace

3501 MacArthur Blvd. and 3426 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, California

Gene's Fine Foods

2803 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton, California

Organic farms

Hain Ranch Organics

608 Bolado Road, Tres Pinos, California

Branigan's Turkey Farm

39621 County Road, Woodland, California

Willie Bird Turkeys

5350 Highway 12, Santa Rosa, California

Marin Sun Farms

See their booth at the San Francisco Farmers Market at the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Laura Wrede, freelance writer, photographer, and longtime Bay Area resident, understands that it isn't just national news that residents in the Silicon Valley want to read. They want to know how these stories affect them. They also want to know what is happening in their own neighborhoods. Wrede offers a local news perspective for her neighbors throughout Santa Clara County.

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