What’s The Stuff on Your Turkey Label?
Organic. Free-range. Fresh. Vegetarian-fed. Picking your family’s Thanksgiving turkey seems straightforward, but it’s easy to get turned around by the cornucopia of labels on the shelves. However, decoding those labels and picking the perfect turkey for your table is easier than you may think!
Let’s start with the basics, such as what you can disregard. The phrase “hormone-free” is misleading, as the FDA requires all raw poultry to be raised without artificial hormones. In that same vein, labels such as “vegetarian-fed” and “no additives or preservatives” can be added to make a turkey look more appealing on a surface level. However, with few exceptions, those labels apply to all turkeys on the shelf and do not necessarily indicate quality. One of the most important labels is organic. Unlike many other claims, an organic label is certified by the USDA. The organic label guarantees that your turkey had a non-GMO diet, no exposure to pesticides, no antibiotics, and access to an outdoor environment. However, this verified quality does lead to higher prices, and it’s your choice whether or not the organic turkey is worth it.
At the end of the day, any Thanksgiving turkey you find on store shelves will be a delicious source of lean protein. However, with this basic knowledge, you’re now equipped to pick the best turkey for you and your family’s lifestyle.