Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Natural Turkey Summer Sausage

This is the 12th new TJ's product in a row we've featured (if you don't count the insertion of the post about dried bananas as a prelude to the one about the new baby bananas). TJ's description of this item can be found here.

I used to eat summer sausage a lot when I was a teenager. Oscar Mayer brand, to be exact. That plus a slice of cheese made for one of my favorite easy sandwiches. But it's now been probably 30 years since I had any.

This, obviously, is more snack/cracker size than sandwich size. As for taste, it's not as peppery as I remember Oscar Mayer's being. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is just too bland. It's probably that damn TJ's Blandification Committee at work again. It's not terrible by any means, but it's uninteresting.

Will I buy it again?

Though I've purchased a good number of TJ's products that have meat or poultry as one ingredient (soups, pot pies, and so on), I think this is the first time I've bought something there that is basically just meat. (Edit: On rereading, I realize that that's not quite true. The first time I went there when the store opened, I bought a pound of ground beef and a steak.) My shopping and eating habits have shifted so far from where they were seven years ago (when I started dating a vegetarian, and as a result started thinking a lot more about my diet) that it felt quite profoundly strange to put this in my basket, and even stranger to open and cut into it. Had it been the traditional pork-based summer sausage, I would have given it a pass, but I think poultry is less problematic than pork and beef in terms of health effects, environmental effects, and ethics, so I'm less stringent about cutting it out of my life than those items. Still, buying and eating a hunk of meat has become sufficiently uncomfortable for me that I wouldn't buy this again even if I loved it.


  1. I'd like you to elaborate on this: "I think poultry is less problematic than pork and beef in terms of health effects, environmental effects, and ethics." Thanks in advance, if you'd care to do so.

  2. Sure. For health, poultry tends to have less saturated fat per gram of protein than beef and pork. Environment: Beef especially, and to a lesser extent pork, requires much more land and water, and results in much more greenhouse gas emissions than poultry. I was first alerted to this by this article (especially the accompanying charts) in National Geographic, but I have since then seen similar figures in other generally reliable publications: Ethics: The closer to sentience an animal is, the more I think we need to be aware and concerned about its quality of life and about raising/harvesting it for food, when there are alternatives available. Cattle and pigs are, by that accounting, more problematic than birds and fish.

  3. Thank you.

    Do those ethical considerations note the fact (?) that cattle and pigs wouldn't exist absent our raising them for food?

    I will read the National Geo piece.

  4. Glib answer: Your children wouldn't exist absent you raising them, but that doesn't mean you get to kill and eat them.

    Serious answer: I get the point. And it's not like I hadn't ever considered it. I don't claim to have an intellectually airtight case. I can only tell you that when I see videos of pigs displaying intelligence, or when I walk by a pasture and cows let me pet them without fear, it feels like I shouldn't be eating them.

  5. If God had not meant us to eat animals, he would not have made them so delicious.

  6. Re: "it feels like I shouldn't be eating them." I completely respect and understand a vegetarianism based on feelings.

  7. While granted domestic turkeys are extremely low on the intelligence spectrum, the blanket assessment that birds are less problematic than cattle suggests you've not met many birds. (not a condemnation; I'm typing as someone who has friends who are birds and also eats other birds.)