Turkey’s prices are increasing this year. Here are options for an affordable Thanksgiving

Need a replacement bird at Thanksgiving? Roast duck with baked vegetables is an alternative to turkey. (grinch/Adobe Stock)

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ATLANTA — If you’re feeling shaken by recent reports that turkey prices are on the rise, don’t panic. It is not necessary to start hoarding turkeys.

“We’re not seeing a shortage of supply,” said Ben Del Coro, vice president of sales and marketing at Fossil Farms, a New Jersey-based supplier of sustainable, all-natural farmed meats and game.

Unlike last holiday season, where supply chain and labor issues caused ingredient shortages, there should be enough frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving. However, outbreaks of avian flu and the impact of inflation on fuel, feed and labor costs have contributed to higher turkey prices.

Whole frozen turkey prices have fallen from $1.15 per pound at this time in 2021 to $1.47 per pound for the week of Oct. 28 to Nov. 28. 3, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Although this represents an increase of almost 28% per pound, “the overall costs are consistent with what everyone has experienced all year” with food prices and inflation, Del Coro said. Indeed, the costs of all turkey parts increased across the board, including fresh and frozen bone-in breasts, drumsticks and ground meat.

In case such prices seem affordable, they aren’t the last you’ll see in the butcher’s business. As Del Coro explained, the USDA’s weekly price report shows wholesale prices for staple poultry — not free-range, organic, or any other so-called premium descriptor. Distributors and retailers add a markup fee before the turkey arrives in your cart.

For those who had been planning on cooking the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving, this year might be the time to try something different. “Buying trends have changed,” Del Coro said. “For the past two years, people have been eating at home and having smaller gatherings,” while restaurants and hotels have stopped serving large Thanksgiving parties.

With more options coming back for dinner on Thanksgiving, there’s “increased demand for the same supply,” he said. “Now wholesale is coming back, but retail demand is still there.” Although home cooks can probably find a frozen turkey at the market, the size and price may not be ideal.

If you’re feeling adventurous or planning on not serving turkey this year, here are some Thanksgiving menu alternatives.

Try another bird or cut of meat

“I personally understand that Thanksgiving is about tradition, but it’s okay to have fun with tradition,” Del Coro said. His Thanksgiving meal often includes foods that were more commonly eaten in pre-industrial North America.

For example, game meats were once a staple of the American diet, he said. “Venison was certainly part of the original Thanksgiving meal and is seasonal,” with cuts similar to roast beef or steaks that can be made with seasonal sides.

If you want to stick with the poultry theme, Del Coro recommends guinea fowl, pheasants and ducks as replacement birds, which “are more available and cheaper than turkey,” he said. Try a whole roast duck with a balsamic glaze for crispy, succulent skin, a rosemary-brined guinea fowl, or a roast pheasant with a cornbread stuffing.

Personally, I understand that Thanksgiving is about tradition, but it’s okay to have fun with tradition.

-From the choir

Or for a more turkey-like experience, Del Coro suggests the chick, a young chicken that weighs around 1 to 1 ½ pounds and is popular in Britain. Each chick can be individually stuffed, he said, and “everyone can have their own little mini roast turkey on their plate.”

Decolonize your menu

Since turkey is just one element of many colonial myths and stereotypes surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, this may be an opportunity to revamp the menu to honor Native Americans.

The Thanksgiving decolonization movement focuses on acknowledging historical racism and violence toward Native Americans instead of perpetuating the “Pilgrims and Indians” narrative and celebrating the continued cultural contributions of these tribes. Creating a decolonized menu can focus on more foods traditionally prepared and served by Native Americans.

Some of the common ingredients in what we consider the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal – squash, including pumpkins, corn, wild rice, and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and turnips – are also traditional indigenous ingredients, so a decolonized menu can bring these dishes to the fore.

You can also add foods commonly prepared by tribes in the area where you live. In the Pacific Northwest, this may include salmon and berries; in the Southwest, you can try making homemade tamales.

Go plant-based

No, focusing on plant-based dishes for Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to serve Tofurky.

“I’ve done a lot of polls with my friends and family” about favorite Thanksgiving meals, said Jules Aron, certified holistic nutrition coach and author of “Nourish and Glow: Naturally Beautifying Foods and Elixirs.”

More often than not, she noted, people choose a side dish as their main Thanksgiving dish — “and most side dishes are already plant-based.” This makes Thanksgiving a natural time to include more plant-based dishes at the table when there is already a tendency to taste and share. And if your favorite side recipe isn’t vegetarian, it’s not the end of the world.

“People get scared when they think of plant-based recipes,” Aron said, fearful of having to make multiple substitutions for a dish or finding substitutes for unusual ingredients. However, “if your side dishes aren’t already plant-based, there’s usually a very easy tweak you can make,” like replacing chicken broth with vegetable broth or using mushrooms instead. bacon.

Aron recommends simple, plant-based dishes that highlight seasonal vegetables for two reasons: the vegetables add color to a menu often dominated by brown and beige ingredients, and “when you buy in season, the prices are lower”.

One of her favorite Thanksgiving side dishes is roasted vegetables with maple and rosemary, which can contain a mixture of root vegetables such as purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and carrots. – or whatever options your family prefers. “It’s not hard to throw them on a baking sheet and roast them,” Aron said.

She also suggests showing up with a whole roasted cauliflower as a plant-based center dish. To bring another pop of bright color to the table, “go the extra mile and find a purple one.” Cauliflower is a blank slate for soaking up flavors, so for Thanksgiving, Aron recommends pairing creamy tahini sauce with seasonal cranberries and candied pecans.

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