Three Reasons to Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey Raised Without Antibiotics

Three Reasons to Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey Raised Without Antibiotics

This month, Americans are expected to buy more than 40 million turkeys for their Thanksgiving feasts. Consumers across the country have an opportunity to influence food producers to curb the overuse of antibiotics in livestock raised for food, a practice that contributes to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. When you’re deciding which turkey to buy, keep these three things in mind:

  1. Public health is at risk. The use of antibiotics in human medicine and industrial farming breeds drug-resistant bacteria that can infect and hospitalize people. Sadly, at least 23,000 Americans die and 2 million are sickened each year because of bacterial infections that are resistant to drugs. By choosing a turkey raised without antibiotics, you can support a food system that promotes and protects the public’s health.
  2. You can make a difference. When consumers vote with their wallets and choose turkeys raised without antibiotics, they have a real impact on companies’ food production policies. In response to consumer demand, leading food producers and restaurant chains nationwide have started to offer meat from animals that were raised responsibly. Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods recently announced that they would no longer use antibiotics in their chicken hatcheries, and the country’s largest fast-food chicken restaurant, Chick-fil-A, announced that it would offer only chicken raised without antibiotics in all of its restaurants within five years. 

    Before heading to the grocery store to shop for your Thanksgiving meal, check out the Environmental Working Group’s label decoder to learn how to decipher poultry product information.
  3. Super Chefs cook meat raised without antibiotics, and consumers can, too. Celebrity chef Mary Sue Milliken, co-chef and owner of the critically acclaimed Border Grill restaurants in California, is one of several Super Chefs who have committed to serving meat raised without antibiotics in their restaurants. She shared some of her holiday recipes so that you can prepare a delicious, responsibly produced Thanksgiving meal. Below are recipes for grilled turkey escabeche, honey lime yams, and shredded Brussels sprouts.
Benjamin Franklin famously argued that the wild turkey should be the national symbol of the United States, calling it the 'Bird of Courage.'

Grilled Turkey Escabeche

Yield: Serves 6


  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2¼ pounds raw turkey breast (raised without antibiotics), cut into thin scallops
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 7½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 medium red onions, diced
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, oregano, allspice, and cloves.  
  2. Cover turkey slices with plastic wrap and pound to flatten evenly to ¼ to ⅛ inch thick. Brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle all over with salt and pepper and spice mixture, and set aside. Preheat grill or broiler. 
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over low heat. Cook onions with the salt, stirring and shaking the pan frequently, until onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Pour in white vinegar, turn heat up to high, and reduce by half. Add chicken or turkey stock and reduce by half again. 
  4. Slice remaining cold butter. Reduce heat to low, and whisk butter into the sauce a little at a time.  Remove from heat and stir in the cracked pepper. 
  5. Grill or broil turkey slices, less than 1 minute per side. Top with cracked pepper sauce and serve immediately. Great accompanied by your favorite yam dish and sautéed greens. 

Copyright 2014, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger,

Honey Lime Yams

Yield: Serves 6 to 8


  • 3 large yams (about 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Creme fraiche or sour cream, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. Wash the yams, and place in a baking dish with the water. Bake until the potatoes are soft and the skins are puffy, about 1½ hours. Set aside to cool slightly (leave the oven on). 
  3. Peel the yams and place in a medium baking dish. Add the honey, butter, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Stir and mash well with a potato masher. Cover with aluminum foil and return to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle the top with creme fraiche or sour cream, and serve hot.

Copyright 2014, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger,

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • 1½ pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Juice of ½ lime


  1. Soak whole sprouts in a large bowl of cold, salted water to clean. Trim and discard ends and any bitter outer leaves. Cut each in half lengthwise, then slice thinly across width.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the sprouts and onion with the cumin, salt, and pepper until the sprouts start to brown. Add water and cook until barely limp, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, and serve immediately. 

Copyright 1996, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

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