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What Will The Turkey Shortage Mean For Christmas Dinner?

The Turkey Shortage Mean For Christmas Dinner - Parents Canada

The avian flu is wreaking havoc in many ways—including your traditional holiday dinner. Read on for the details of this year’s potential turkey shortage, as well as a roundup of alternative options.

The BC Poultry Association warns families of a possible turkey shortage ahead of the Christmas season due to avian flu. Coastal families especially may want to rethink their festive spread in favour of a turkey alternative.

Since spring of this year, the H5N1 avian flu has had an unprecedented effect on poultry producers across North America (not to be confused with the H1N1 strain responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic). In a recent interview, BC Poultry Association spokeswoman Amanda Brittain says they anticipate a 20 percent drop in available turkeys compared to previous years (chicken and egg numbers, however, remain steady).

Farms in the Fraser Valley—where most of BC’s poultry are raised—were hit especially hard this fall. The area is also a major migration route for wild birds carrying the disease.

Can Infected Turkey Affect My Family?

Not unless you come in direct contact with infected live birds, according to a report from Montreal Children’s Hospital. You cannot catch H5N1 from eating turkey. And for now, there is no human-to-human spread of this avian flu strain. If you are feeling unwell after being in direct contact with live birds, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Overall, most Canadian families don’t need to be concerned, other possibly fewer turkeys at Christmastime.

What Else Can We Serve for the Holidays?

If your heart is set on a turkey feast rivalling Clark Griswold’s in the ’80s classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (minus the catastrophic deflated bird), fear not—if there’s a turkey shortage in your area, or turkey prices soar as we get closer to the holidays, there are lots of oven roast alternatives that are equally worthy of a special family dinner. (Besides, not everyone loves turkey.) Try one of these instead:

Beef: Prime rib, beef tenderloin or even the more economical top sirloin all make impressive roasts. Most Canadian beef is labeled with the cooking method in the name, so look for “oven roast” in the grocery store, e.g., top sirloin oven roast. Try this: Slow-Roasted Filet of Beef with Parmesan Mayo

Pork: Holiday hams are always crowd-pleasers and make great sandwiches the next day. There’s also the show-stopping crown roast of pork, or consider boneless pork tenderloin wrapped in tasty pancetta and herbs. Try this: Pancetta Pork Tenderloin

Ham: Not just a spring thing, roast ham lends itself nicely to the occasion. Serve with gratin or scalloped potatoes, roasted veg or a fresh winter salad and a festive dessert. Try this: Sticky Rosemary Balsamic Ham

Fish: A Christmas Eve tradition for many cultures, baked whole fish, roast filets, or cedar-planked on the grill all fit the holiday bill. Try this: Roasted Fish with Pesto

Vegetables: Is this the year for a meatless feast? With eggplant parmesan, stuffed squash and roasted root vegetables—not to mention pastas and casseroles—the possibilities are endless. Try this: Slowcooker Vegetarian Lasagna

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