October 28, 2020
To the lengthy list of COVID pandemic victims, add the nation’s 2,500 turkey farmers. According to this article in the Washington Post, the pandemic threatens to interrupt fifty years of steadily increasing turkey consumption (which peaked last year at roughly 16 pounds per person, most of which was gobbled up on Thanksgiving Day) and potentially altering the holiday for good: social distancing and travel challenges will mean fewer people gathering around the table this November, resulting in smaller home-cooked turkeys on the table, fewer holiday restaurant reservations and, in an increasing number of households, potentially no turkey at all.
Turkey farmers understandably fear a “sizeable increase in ‘immediate-family-only’ celebrations” this year, which would translate into fewer overflowing buffet tables which, in turns, would mean fewer turkeys. In fact, other proteins such as ham or seafood could even “cut into turkey’s dominance” if people decide that preparing an entire turkey means biting off more than one can chew, as it were.
On the other hand, the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, which “has been answering consumers’ Thanksgiving cooking questions” for 39 years, is predicting “greater demand than ever from panicked first-time cooks.”