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Talking Turkey

Thanksgiving’s main course, from free to $6.75 a pound

The bird of the season is a turkey.    
        We Americans devour over 45 million turkeys and over 675 million pounds of turkey each Thanksgiving. That’s the big day, but not the only day, we eat the big bird. If you’re an average American, you eat 17.5 pounds of turkey every year. That’s more than even Uncle Max could eat in one day.
    Some of us will eat turkey for free; others will pay up to $6.75 a pound for Thanksgiving’s main course.
    Depending on where you shop and what standards you set, here’s what you can expect to pay.
    The closer you get to nature, the higher the price. Philosophy, too, adds dollars. You can have your turkey ­locally raised on free-range grass and free of hormones, growth-enhancers, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides or even soy — if you’re willing to pay.
    P.A. Bowen Farmstead in Prince George’s County is an “integrated farm that mimics the patterns of nature.” It follows organic practices (though it is not certified) and the agricultural philosophy of Dr. Weston A. Price. Buy this Bowen bird for $6.75 per pound (under 20 pounds) and $6.25 (over 20 pounds).
    Do with a little less philosophy, and you can get turkey raised on an organic, but not certified, farm in St. Leonard for $4 a pound. But you’ll have to hurry. Chesapeake’s Bounty has only nine white, broad-breasted turkeys unspoken for.
    Organic birds sell for $3.99 per pound at Whole Foods, but in life these turkeys ranged farther afield. Whole Foods also offers the biggest variety of birds: heirlooms at $3.49 a pound, fresh brined at $2.99 a pound and free-range at $2.49 a pound.
    If you’ll settle for fresh and never frozen, buy from Bowen’s Grocery in Huntingtown for $2.39 a pound.
    Giant, Safeway and Shoppers are in close competition for the best value if you don’t care how your turkey was raised and don’t mind thawing it.
    In this week’s circular, Giant advertises its own frozen brand at 59 cents a pound and frozen Butterballs at 99 cents a pound.
    Safeway is a penny below at 58 cents a pound for store-brand and 10 cents below with Butterballs at 89 cents a pound. A third choice, at 99 cents a pound, is a fresh Shady Brook Farm turkey.
    Shoppers sells a Marvel prime young frozen turkey for 58 cents a pound.
    I don’t pay a penny for turkey; hubby gets a free bird from work every year, a blast-from-the-past perk of his job we count among our blessings.
    Your turkey can be free, too. Find free community Thanksgiving turkey dinners throughout Thanksgiving week. Monday Nov. 25, We Care and Friends Thanksgiving Dinner in Annapolis: 410-263-2874. Wednesday Nov. 27, Cedar Grove United Methodist Church Thanksgiving Dinner in Deale: 410-867-7417. Thursday Nov. 28, Mt. Harmony United Methodist Church Thanksgiving Feast in Owings: 410-257-2761.
    You can also run your way to free turkey at Anne Arundel Community College’s Thanksgiving day Turkey Trot: 410-777-2302.