by Megan Crockett, Nutrition Program Director
Have you ever asked yourself why turkey is so iconic when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving? History leads us to believe that turkey was shared at the First Thanksgiving dinner in 1621, and has become a tradition ever since. However, it is more likely that meats such as venison, geese or duck were enjoyed. The tradition of consuming turkey as well as cranberry and pumpkin pie most likely originated from traditional New England Harvest Festivals.
You might be wondering where this history lesson is going. Many of you are likely aware of supply chain issues and product being out of stock, especially over the past couple of years. Food supply and product availability remains a challenge, and this is no different when it comes to traditional holiday meals.
This year over 40 million turkeys have been lost due to avian flu as well as extraordinarily high temperatures this summer. On a positive note, experts believe that the avian flu has run its course. On the downside, flocks have not been able to re-populate enough to meet the Thanksgiving demand. The highest turkey producing states include Minnesota, Indiana, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and some eastern states. Across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 414 flocks in 39 states have been affected since February.
This year’s outbreak contributed to a spike in egg and meat prices, and killed an alarming number of bald eagles and other wild birds. The disease is typically carried by migrating birds. It only occasionally affects humans, such as farm workers, and the USDA keeps poultry from infected flocks out of the food supply.
Having shared this information, please understand why a delicious, turkey inspired chicken will be served for our Thanksgiving meal this year. We have worked hard to prepare a traditional menu otherwise, including mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. We hope you will enjoy our Thanksgiving celebration with us at all five Activity and Dining Sites in Midland County!