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how to choose a turkeyFrom free-range to organic to local, the options are ever-expanding when it comes to selecting the star of your Thanksgiving spread. “All this variety is a positive thing for shoppers,” says Becky Faudree, senior global coordinator for meat at Whole Foods Market. “The labels carry different levels of significance for different customers depending on their diets, preferences, and budget.” To help you make the best decision for your family, here are some of the most common labels and what they mean.

Certified Humane: Farms that earn this certification must undergo frequent inspections and adhere to strict requirements for the turkey’s food and water supply, healthcare (no growth hormones are permitted), and housing.

Free Range: This USDA-regulated term indicates that the birds had continuous free access to the outdoors at least 51 percent of the time.

Heritage: These are older breeds of turkeys that are more like wild varieties than the typical mass-market bird. They’re also raised more ethically—generally allowed to graze, eat, and mate naturally.

Local: These turkeys are bought from nearby farms—either directly or through a supermarket—and are often fresher because they have not traveled as far to get to the store.

USDA Certified Organic: Turkeys displaying this seal come from farms that have undergone a strict third-party evaluation to ensure that they don’t use synthetic chemicals or GMOs.

Once you choose the best turkey for your holiday meal, try our Roasted Herb Turkey recipe.

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