There seems to be some degree of (understandable) confusion regarding local turkeys available for Thanksgiving. It's a little confusing and easy to make assumptions.
While Misty Knoll Farms does a fantastic job of raising quality, local
poultry including Turkeys: their turkeys are neither free-ranged, nor
organic and both terms are a misrepresentation. Misty Knoll has
never been organic, and it's been years since owner Rob Lytch made the (arguably very wise) decision to
keep his turkeys inside barns throughout their lives to protect them
from potential contact with avian influenza.
Organic is a legal term regulated by the USDA through our local certifying agency, the Vermont Organic Farmers Association and the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA). Organic growers are certified by fairly strict inspection practices which permit them to use the term "organic" and to display the local organic label or the USDA organic label.
Free-ranged is a largely unregulated claim, but by definition it simply means the the birds are provided some "access to the outdoors". It does not mean that the birds spend their days blissfully grazing and pecking the fields. It also, however, DOES NOT mean that the birds are caged, mishandled or mistreated. You need to either know the farm, or trust your retailer to know how big the barns are and how many birds are occupying the space.
This is not to say that local not organic, not free-ranged turkeys aren't great - they certainly can be! Just be sure that you are getting what you are expecting; and let's all us retailers be extra careful how we advertise.