Food & Fitness

What they don’t tell you about Butterball turkeys (and why you should never buy another one)

This year for Thanksgiving, I managed to convince the mother dear to purchase a local, organic, free-range turkey for the annual meal. It cost about a dollar more per pound, but it was worth every penny to switch to an ethically-raised turkey from our usual Butterball.

living turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Stats:

  • Turkeys on factory farms are killed by six months of age – in the wild, they usually live up to 10 years.
  • Factory farms allow turkeys no more than three or four square feet of space each – in the wild, they love running.
  • On a factory farm, turkeys are packed inside dark sheds and many do not see daylight – in the wild, turkeys roam around and build their own nests.
  • Since turkeys are genetically bred to grow at faster rates, they can’t handle the vast amount of extra weight and deformities – in the wild, this would certainly not be the norm.
  • Most turkeys have to suffer their beaks and toes being sliced off without anaesthesia in factory farms – in the wild, they need their beaks and toes to live well.
  • In factory farms, turkeys are often still conscious when their throats are slit and when they are thrust into vats of boiling water – generally when turkeys are raised on a free-range farm, they’re killed in a much more ethical way.

Thanksgiving turkey

And yes. All of this happens in Butterball factory farms.

Besides all of this, turkeys such as Butterball are often injected with all kinds of things such as emulsifiers, oils, sodium-phosphate, colors, artificial flavourings and more. And real turkey tastes a whole lot better than all of that crap.

Even if you bought a Butterball (or other factory-farmed) turkey for Thanksgiving this year, you can choose to make your next purchase a more ethical one. Buy a free-range turkey for Christmas in December and go from there. Vote with your food dollar.



  1. Chris

    Thank you so much for sharing this article! I think everyone should see these horrifying statistics! It is just so sad! I think we will need to do a similar article on our blog with the holidays quickly approaching!

  2. Nick

    I mistakenly believed Butterball had something to do with butter and that was the reason why I preferred the taste.

    I was just looking to see what was differnt about them having discovered butter isn’t involved.

    Before I met her, my wife and her kids didn’t like turkey. Having tasted Butterball turkeys they like turkey too.

    I’m not trying to antagonise, we just prefer the taste and moistness of them

  3. julie

    My sister will not visit my parents for T-giving unless they buy a humanely raised turkey. They whine, don’t understand no matter how much you explain (nor about organic milk), but have come to accept it. Now if only they could get a grasp on brining, or as my dad calls it, “marionating”, another thing they see no purpose for. I only go every other T-giving or three, don’t like turkey anyway.

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