My 2021 Pandemic Low-Salt Turkey Quest

I knew this would be a difficult year to find a low-sodium fresh turkey for Thanksgiving because of the
Pandemic and supply chain issues it had caused. But I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to find what I wanted.

Keep in mind a fresh turkey, one not injected with sodium solutions for self-basting should have about 70 mgs of sodium per serving. Turkeys with liquids injected can range as high as 300 mgs of sodium per serving. And, really who eats just one serving of turkey on Thanksgiving.

My medium-sodium pandemic turkey from Costco, $2.99 a pound.

I’d written you might have to buy a bigger bird than you wanted this year. But what I found was the opposite, larger turkeys, those over 14 pounds, were extremely difficult o find, regardless of salt content.

I started at a local Jewel, an Albertson chain in the Chicago area, where I found Butterball premium turkeys that were loaded with salt. I next tried Whole Foods, one had no turkeys whatsoever, the other had only frozen turkeys. A butcher there told me fresh turkeys would be in a few days later. But when I returned on that day, they had yet to appear.

I then swung by a local Mariano’s outlet (a Kroger chain in the Chicago area). Its website listed a low-sodium Jenny O turkey option but there were none in the store I went to.

All those failed attempts sent me back to Costco, which I had visited a few days earlier, and which had let me down in 2020. My local Costco fresh turkeys with 125 mgs of sodium per serving, for $2.99 a pound, $2 a pound more than the high sodium Butterball turkeys it also had. Not the best, but better than was available there last year. I decided to get one before they were all gone since there were few large ones in the case. An older woman had her hands wrapped around a 20-pound one when I arrived and wouldn’t let it go until a butcher came to help her lift it into her cart. So I grabbed a 19-pound one, the last larger turkey in the case.

A few days later, I checked out a new Amazon Fresh store that opened in a neighboring suburb and found it had fresh turkeys but only 14-pounder priced at @28, or about $2 a pound.

It’s possible Whole Foods may yet get some fresh turkeys (I write this a week before Thanksgiving). But in this Pandemic, waiting is dangerous, if you see something, grab it.

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