Thanksgiving Turkey Shortage Opens New Possibilities – YubaNet

The Great Turkey Shortage of 2022 is real. Thanksgiving tables won’t groan under the weight of a 20+ pound turkey with all the trimmings. But don’t despair, your local stores offer you smaller birds and delicious alternatives.

Why the shortage?

Highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has decimated commercial flocks in the United States. Like human flu, strains of bird flu vary in strength and infectivity. For 2022, the CDC reports 310 counties in 44 states with outbreaks, affecting 49,001,035 birds. [source: H5N1 bird flu detection page]

Will the available turkeys be safe to eat?

All turkeys found in retail stores are either inspected by the USDA or by state systems that have standards equivalent to those of the federal government. Organic birds must meet additional certifications.

Local shops, local food to the rescue

Three weeks from the end, local shops are adapting to the situation. We spoke to staff at the local grocery store who shared the current situation – and also offered tips for a great meal.

At SPD in Nevada City, Matt has a limited supply of frozen turkeys, all under 16 pounds. Fresh turkeys will be available, up to 19 pounds, but no larger birds. Of course, the meat department has their usual full selection of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and don’t forget the seafood.

SPD in Grass Valley is very much in the same boat. The turkey supply is at its lowest in a decade, 24% less than last year, according to Glenn. Norbest fresh turkeys will be available, but in limited quantities. Small birds are available for reservation, and Glenn suggests alternatives like pheasant, duck, goose or a dip from their large seafood selection.

California Organics in Nevada City will receive only a fraction of organic turkeys ordered, according to owner Eric. He suggests alternatives like meatloaf, chicken or salmon and recommends their nut bread as a vegetarian option. Supplement with abundant local and seasonal products.

Natural Selections in Grass Valley and Mother Truckers in North San Juan both said only a small percentage of natural or organic turkeys ordered will be available from their supplier. Once quantities are known, sign-up sheets will be posted in stores. Eli and Jack recommend alternatives like veggie crust bread or organic chicken if the bird on the table is a must. There is no shortage of seasonal products and fruits, be creative!

Rebecca Torpie, Marketing Director of BriarPatch Food Co-op, said, “Fortunately, natural and organic turkeys aren’t hit as hard as conventional poultry. We have excellent relationships with our suppliers and are confident that we will have a good supply for the holidays. However, this shortage is not only local, it is national and certainly affects all markets. At the start of the pandemic, we encouraged early purchases to ease traffic through the store and launched a $5 turkey flash sale the week before Thanksgiving. We encourage people to shop early again this year for their bird and pantry products to enjoy the best customer experience. The turkeys will be available on November 17.

Start your preparation

Let’s face it, cooking a new dish for Thanksgiving can be daunting. Why not try a new recipe in the next few weeks? Talk to your meat or deli counter pros and let them help you out. Thanksgiving will be fine, giant bird or not.

Want to share a recipe? Please write to us and we would also love to see photos of your culinary creations. Leading up to Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing cooking tips and recipes to make your vacation as stress-free as possible.

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