I heard a radio piece a while back on Radio Lab about  making choices. In it, I recall there being scientific evidence presented about how the human brain could only handle so many options before self-destructing.
Which brings me to the topic of Turkey. There are many, many options out there. So many, that (thankfully!) there are good choices at a wide variety of price points. Depending on your preference – fresh or frozen, conventional or organic, kosher, heritage, self-basting (get the picture?) – you can get a great bird for a good price.
The Associated Press has already put out good information on this topic. It’s a nice starting point, and reminds that Turkey prices at many grocery stores do not go up around Thanksgiving:

“The average retail price was $1.16 per pound for a conventionally raised turkey, $7 to $10 per pound for a heritage bird and a range of prices in between for free-range and organic turkey, according to the National Turkey Federation, which says Americans consumed some 45 million turkeys last Thanksgiving.”

Figure out how big your bird needs to be and then if price is top-of-mind this year, wait for those deals to appear in the upcoming weeks.
If you choose to spend more, there are plenty of options there, too. But cost is in the eye of the spender. Take, for example, this recent Bon Apetit blog entitled, “Making the case for a $140 Turkey.”
In it, Heritage Foods USA co-founder Patrick Martens explains that a happy, family-farm raised heritage Turkey costs less (in Brooklyn, NY) than dining at Applebees or buying a McDonalds value meal, saying, “It ends up coming out to $8 a pound, or $8 per person.”
Those looking for the best for less might like personal finance columnist Michael Koretzky’s take on turkey. In his recent piece, “7Tips to Save on Thanksgiving,” he advocates frozen over fresh saying that even Emeril says there’s no quality difference, despite his new locavore focus.
Generally speaking, Koretzky says this year’s dinner will cost the same or less than last year’s dinner, gauging current inflation and the cost of last year’s Thanksgiving dinner:

“For the past quarter century, the American Farm Bureau has estimated the average cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings. In 2009, the total was $42.91 for a table of 10. That was a $1.70 drop from 2008, and the first time prices have dropped since 2000.”

The bottom line: Decide which kind of turkey you want to serve based on what’s important to you.  Do your homework. Then shop well to get the best turkey for your table to prevent your head from exploding!

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