Turkey growers describe this time of year as the industry’s Super Bowl, when orders for turkeys start rolling in. But Thanksgiving will be different this year because of the pandemic.
Rick Hermonot said it’s still a little early to know how many people will order smaller turkeys from his farm in Sterling.
“We’re wondering because folks are not having as large a gathering,” he said. “But orders have been coming in so far. They look pretty typical. People wanting 12-pounders all the way up to people wanting 35- or 40-pounders.”
Hermonot’s Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm grows about 4,000 pasture-raised turkeys. It’s one of an estimated 90-plus farms that sell turkeys in the state, according to the USDA. There’s no major commercial turkey production in Connecticut, but Beth Breeding of the National Turkey Federation said local farmers may be in the best position to respond this year to changes in demand brought on by the pandemic.
“Thanksgiving turkey production starts long before the fall,” she said. “So it’s difficult to adjust some of those needs on the fly. However, I do think that we’ll see some growers being able to adjust the size of their turkey, especially for smaller operations and those who are selling fresh products closer to the holiday season.”
She expects lots of families to still go the big whole-bird route, with plenty of leftovers. Others may choose turkey parts.
Hermonot said Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm offers customers a creative option: the Hot Gobbler Sundae.
“We start with a scoop of mashed potato instead of ice cream. And then on top of that we crumble up some stuffing. And on top of that we put chunks of turkey breast. Then, instead of hot fudge we pour gravy over it. And instead of a cherry we put a scoop of cranberry sauce on the top.”
He calls it Thanksgiving in a bowl. And if the whole bird is too much, maybe a bowl will do.