Tough turkey: your Thanksgiving bird could be more expensive this year

Hello and welcome to Essential California newsletter. This is Tuesday, November 15. I’m Susanne Rust, an environmental journalist based in the Bay Area. And I can’t believe it’s nine days away from Thanksgiving, which made me think about food, especially turkey.

About six weeks ago I wrote a story on highly pathogenic avian influenza which has made its way across the country and on the continent. About 50 million birds have died or been culled since the virus emerged in North America last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the toll is expected to surpass the 2015 record of 50.5 million birds, about twice as many. States are affected this time around.

The flu has hit turkey farms — so depending on whether you’re hoping for a fresh, free-range, or frozen turkey, that could also affect your Thanksgiving meal (or at least your wallet).

Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation (and former journalist), said about 300,000 of the turkeys targeted for Thanksgiving were slaughtered. That’s about 10% of the 3 million California turkeys normally delivered this time of year — which is significant but shouldn’t deter anyone who wants to eat a turkey at Thanksgiving.

“It’s important that people look to their supermarket if they really want a fresh, free Californian bird, because those come first,” Mattos said.

Prices for fresh turkeys are expected to be about 80% higher than last year, he said, but bargains can likely be found for frozen turkeys. Supermarkets offer discounts on frozen birds at this time of year to lure shoppers into their stores, he said.

Finally, just a note about organic turkeys: due to avian flu, biosecurity is high right now on commercial farms. This means that all birds are kept indoors.

“One of the qualifications for ‘organic’ is that the birds are free range, they have access to the environment,” Mattos said. “Well, because of the bird flu — nationally and locally — that has been changed so birds can now be grown indoors. Just this time of year to get through this whole flu season.

And now, Here’s what’s happening across California:

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STORIES FROM THE

Morrissey abruptly ends the concert because it was cold: The 63-year-old former frontman of iconic 80s pop-new wave band The Smiths abruptly ended his show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Thirty minutes into the second night of his ‘Live in Concert’ tour, he stormed off-stage moments after complaining about freezing temperatures in the mid-1950s. A band member returned to the stage and apologized under the mockery. San Francisco Chronicle

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Karen Bass ‘on track to win’ LA mayoral race: Monday’s updated vote tally brings the MP closer to victory, leading property developer Rick Caruso by more than 4 percentage points nearly a week after polls closed. There are likely thousands of votes left to count, but pundits said they struggled to see a way for Caruso to close the gap. Los Angeles Times

Re-elected, Newsom wants to set the record straight on California: Governor Gavin Newsom hates what he hears about the state on Fox News, where California’s image is “criminal and overpriced with homeless encampments filling its sidewalks,” reports Taryn Luna of The Times. Newsom hopes the policies and programs he enacted during his first term — like a new system to force treatment for the seriously mentally ill and addicted — will begin to “address accessibility and quality of life issues.” in California today. and lay the foundations for a better and fairer state in the future. Observers expect his legislative agenda to be thinner this term, with more emphasis on implementing what he has achieved. Los Angeles Times

Drama behind the election of the new California Assembly Speaker: Times columnist George Skelton tells a colorful and intrigue-filled story of the machinations that took place to put Rep. Robert Rivas, 42, a San Benito County Democrat, in charge next year. Competing egos, political alliances, meetings behind closed doors – it’s all in there. Los Angeles Times.

Expensive “yes” for a failed clearance measurement: Just 17% of voters backed Proposition 27 – the failed ballot measure that sought to legalize online sports betting in California. When all the votes are tallied, each “yes” probably cost the gaming industry about $100. Compare that with the less than $3 per yes spent on Proposition 1, which cemented abortion rights in the state constitution. Mercury News

McCarthy’s uncertain future: With House control still undecided, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) is struggling to garner support to become president if Republicans take control as expected. No one has the 218 votes he needs, and McCarthy is facing pushback from his own party’s far-right flank. New York Times

CRIME, COURTS AND POLICE

Los Angeles Police Department officer Jason Goode issued a warning to a motorist on Ventura Boulevard in Encino last month.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Less underage trafficking for LAPD after new rules: Since the LAPD adopted new rules of engagement regarding traffic stops – no longer using minor violations, such as a broken taillight, as grounds for a search unless the officer thinks a more serious crime is underway – the number of such checks has dropped considerably. As stops became more targeted, there was a slight increase in the frequency with which contraband was discovered. The Times analysis suggests that “police can strike an effective balance between public safety and respect for the rights of individuals,” report Libor Jany and Ben Poston. Los Angeles Times

Yasiel Puig will plead guilty in connection with an illegal gambling network: The former Dodgers outfielder has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal agents investigating an illegal sports betting operation run by Wayne Nix, a former minor league baseball player who lives in Newport Beach. Puig racked up more than $280,000 in debt with Nix’s operation and subsequently placed hundreds of bets on tennis, soccer and basketball, according to the plea agreement. Los Angeles Times

Jennifer Siebel Newsom takes a stand against Harvey Weinstein: In her testimony to a jury at the fallen Hollywood mogul’s sexual assault trial, Siebel Newsom wept as she shared graphic details of what she recalled as a violent rape in a Beverly Hills hotel suite there. was 17, when she was a struggling actress. “It was hell,” she told jurors in downtown Los Angeles as her husband, Governor Gavin Newsom, waited in a room down the hall. Los Angeles Times

HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT

Flu season is straining the healthcare system in SoCal: After nearly three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flu is back in full force to grab the headlines. For the week that ended Nov. 5, 25% of tests in LA County labs were positive for influenza — well above current levels in each of the past five years. Health officials say the outbreak is straining a system that is simultaneously stressed by an outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and the coronavirus. Underscoring the danger, California public health officials reported the first death of a child under the age of 5 from influenza and RSV on Monday. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIAN CULTURE

A man wearing a hi-vis vest speaks into a megaphone as protesters hold up signs saying the UAW is on strike, unfair labor practice

Alex Chubick, a research student in the department of human genetics, leads other protesters in a chant at UCLA as nearly 48,000 University of California scholars go on strike Monday.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

The UC strike disrupts classes: About 48,000 unionized scholars at the University of California’s 10 campuses walked off the job Monday morning, demanding better pay and benefits. Workers include teaching assistants, postdoctoral researchers, graduate student researchers, tutors and fellows, as well as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory workers. Just weeks before final exams, the strike has disrupted scheduled classes and university officials are calling for the intervention of a third-party mediator. Los Angeles Times

New cultural district for Pacific Islanders: On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to pass legislation creating the city’s 10th Cultural District – this one recognizing the Pacific Islander community. If adopted, the site will be in a southern district bordering Daly City. San Francisco Chronicle

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: 72, sunny San Diego: 67, sunny San Francisco: 63 years old, sunny San Jose: 66, sunny Fresno: 64, sunny Sacrament: 68, sunny

AND FINALLY

Today california memory is of Wendy Aldwin:

Where dude and elephant seals bask, Disneyland sparkles, Bakersfield cooks and Morro Bay whispers. Stuffy traffic and Huntington Gardens. Colossal trees and banana slugs. Beach and desert and mist and highway 1. Whales waving and spouting a greeting. Calm Napa Valley. Serene volcanoes. A time of unwavering beauty barring catastrophic natural disasters. I left my heart in California!

If you have a memory or a story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please limit your story to 100 words.)

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