2020 Is The Year Of The Wee Turkey [Updated]

Update, November 13, 2020: The nonprofit organization Heifer International, which "supports small-scale farmers to deliver fresh, nutritious food to reliable markets by providing them with training, education and resources needed to sell their products for a fair price," has provided a list of some places you can order smaller turkeys for your Thanksgiving dinner this year, in case the leading brands at your local grocery store are still just too damn big for your revised celebrations.

"Unlike major producers, small-scale farms have been able to move processing timelines over the last several months in an attempt to produce smaller birds," an email sent to The Takeout explains. Here are some farms to check out, all of which are fulfilling online orders:

  • Grass Roots Farmers' Cooperative, made up of 40 small-scale farms mostly in Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi, is shipping orders the week of November 16. If whole turkeys are sold out, or you would prefer smaller servings, you can order turkey breast or wings for Thanksgiving or any occasion year round. This year, Grass Roots is also partnering with Heifer USA to donate a portion of all turkeys sold to help take hunger off the menu for the millions of people who go hungry every day.
  • Belcampo, a group of farms in California. Belcampo is also committed to humane animal management and climate-positive, regenerative agriculture. Their pasture-raised, organic turkeys ship on November 23 with an estimated arrival of November 24.

Original post, October 30, 2020: For the first time ever, I'm not going home to southern Missouri for Thanksgiving. My adherence to CDC guidelines means a few things: one, I'm pretty sad; two, I get to be the boss of my very own Thanksgiving dinner. Judging by the internet discourse, I'm not alone in that endeavor—which explains why supermarkets are stocking up on little tiny turkeys for pint-sized COVID Thanksgivings.

In years past, the average size of a Thanksgiving turkey was about 16 pounds. This year, supermarkets are stocking smaller birds. The Today Show reported that Stew Leonard's, a family-run supermarket chain in the Northeast, found that most customers anticipate a smaller Thanksgiving dinner this year as relatives choose not to gather in large groups. Today also notes that a similar Butterball study found that about 25% of people are seeking a smaller turkey for this year's festivities.

Realistically, I know that turkeys come in a wide array of sizes. Chances are, the smaller turkeys on store shelves won't look much different from turkeys of yore—but it's still fun to think about a tiny fowl grown in a tiny egg and served on a tiny plate.

Worried about how to prepare your little bird? If this is your first time spearheading Thanksgiving dinner on your own, you have options. You can call or text Butterball's Turkey Talk helpline if your bird looks funky. Today reports that stores like Kroger are also adding more plant-based proteins for the holiday. And if you'd rather not navigate the complex world of giblets, there's always Popeye's.