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Hormone-Free Turkeys? Of Course!

by Alison Hudson

November 26, 2014

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Donate In the last few days, as Thanksgiving here in the United States has approached, I've seen the graphic below shared across Facebook by friends and family. At first I ignored it, as I tend to ignore most image memes I come across; but this one intrigued me because it seemed to run counter to the standard image meme fare.

I've seen the hormone free line before. There are plenty of vendors out there using it, usually in association with a laundry-list of other "healthy" selling points like free-range, grass-fed, non-GMO, gluten-free, and antibiotic-free. I know that at least some of those other buzzwords are essentially meaningless, so it wouldn't surprise me if "no hormones" was also little more than a marketing line.

As it turns out, the Farmer's Daughter (the originator of the image) is correct: no turkeys in the United States are given hormones because it's not allowed under USDA guidelines. These vendors are all telling the truth, but it's a pointless truth. They're basically saying, "we follow USDA guidelines," but in a way that will attract the kind of consumer who doesn't mind paying a premium price for their turkey based on perceived health benefits.

Also interestingly, guidelines say that farms can only use the term "no hormones added" if they aslo acknowledge on the label that "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones". I didn't see that caveat on any of the "no hormones" turkey vendor websites linked above; I hope they've got it on their packaging.

I know that this post is probably too late to stop any reader who might have already purchased their holiday birds. Even so, this is a handy little fact nugget to have at the ready when you're sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and someone starts going on about how all-natural and hormone free the main course is. Just be sure to follow it up with, "But the turkey's delicious either way, Aunt Betty. Can I have seconds?"

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

One more thing: After finding this image I did a little reading over at The Farmer's Daughter USA. I was quite pleased by the articles I found there; she very much has a practical / skeptical / reality-based perspective on the subject of agriculture that I think would appeal to Skeptoid readers. I highly recommend giving her page a look while you wait for the big meal to be served.

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by Alison Hudson

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