This year’s massive turkey shortage may leave people scrambling to find their Thanksgiving turkey.
For years, the price of turkeys has been climbing due to inflation and rising costs of labor, fuel, fertilizer, and food for livestock. On top of that, a particularly deadly strain of avian flu hit in 2022, wiping out over 50 million birds across 43 states, including 6 million turkeys. In Utah’s Sanpete County alone, nearly half a million turkeys have died from the disease.
What does that mean for home chefs?
Well, unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a drumstick for your Thanksgiving protein this year, you basically have three alternatives:
1. Buy your turkey now
If you and your family have your hearts set on turkey, then time is of the essence. Already, 2022 turkey prices in the US have nearly doubled over last year, and prices will likely go up even more as Thanksgiving gets closer and supplies dwindle.
2. Look at alternative meats
Maybe this is the year to skip the tom altogether and grace your Thanksgiving table with a totally different kind of meat. Let’s be honest: many of your guests would probably prefer a succulent braised chicken to a traditional turkey. Chicken is still relatively affordable and easier to prepare, especially if you decide to spare yourself the trouble and just buy a rotisserie chicken this year.
Other meats that have been hits at our past Thanksgiving tables include short ribs, ham, and pork roast. If you want to stay true to history, duck, goose, and fish were probably on that first Pilgrim Thanksgiving table. (Passenger pigeon was also on the fare, but orders for passenger pigeon are no longer being filled.) Fish is an especially great choice to replace Thanksgiving turkey. Fall is the perfect time of year to enjoy fresh trout because their meat is at its peak flavor as they fatten up for winter.
3. Go Vegetarian
Finally, there’s always the option of going vegetarian for your Thanksgiving protein…unless you’re afraid of starting a holiday riot.
Quinoa is a good source of protein, and it's versatile enough to be used in appetizers, salads, entrées, or desserts. Alternatively, you can drive all thoughts of turkey out of your guests’ minds as they dig into a Vegetarian Lasagna Bolognese or a hearty Mac and Cheese.
If you’ve ever longed to replace your Thanksgiving turkey with something more tasty (and less stressful to prepare), this year’s turkey shortage may be just the excuse you need!
Happy holidays from us all at Culinary Crafts. Eat well!