Lifestyle

A little bit of agriculture in your Thanksgiving meals

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Of course we know that Thanksgiving is a holiday surrounded by food, but have you thought about the interesting ways those unique products got from the farm to your table? Check out these facts on some of the most popular Thanksgiving agricultural products:

Image by Bearok, Shutterstock

Turkeys

Yes turkey, the highlight of Thanksgiving! It is estimated that nearly 46 million turkeys will be consumed in America on Thanksgiving Day. This would rack up more than $1 billion in turkey sales this year! This one holiday encompasses about 20 percent of turkey production/sales for the entire year, and it takes about 16 to 18 weeks for turkeys to reach market weight.

The whole turkey that many families will gather around is typically a hen, which is usually around 15 pounds of meat. A 15-pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. Tom turkeys (males) are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets, and deli meats.


Image courtesy of USDA, Flickr

Cranberries

You can’t have turkey without cranberry sauce! Similar to the turkey market, 20 percent of cranberries are consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday, or around 80 million pounds. It takes a lot of cranberries to make your favorite products, there are about 200 cranberries in every can of sauce, 440 berries in a one-pound bag, and 4,400 cranberries in a gallon of juice! One of the largest cranberry companies is one you know well, Ocean Spray, and it grows about 70 percent of the cranberries in the world!

Cranberries are uniquely grown in bogs. Unlike other fruits, this bush-like plant is submerged in water while a tractor drives through, loosening the berries from the plant. Because of the berries’ light weight and structure, they float to the top of the water where the can be collected and “scooped” up into a waiting harvest truck. The bogs are drained, and the plants regrow next year!


Image by Dmitriy Gutkovskiy, Shutterstock

Potatoes

Are you a sweet potato or mashed russet potato fan? Potatoes are a popular side for Thanksgiving in many forms including mashed, casseroles, or even in dessert with sweet potato pie! Over 3 billion pounds of sweet potatoes are grown in the U.S. each year, and about 47 billion pounds of potatoes are harvested each year. This popular side-dish is known for it’s versatility, with a wide-range of presentations and flavors available to pair with nearly any meal.

Potatoes are a root vegetable, meaning they grow underground. One plant can produce as many as 20 tubers, or potatoes, which grow to various sizes depending on soil, moisture, and nutrient conditions. Each potato has 10 buds, what we know as eyes, presented in a spiral pattern around it. Each of these eyes can create a shoot which will start a new potato plant in favorable conditions!


pumpkin-pie-whipped-cream
Image courtesy of Marie C Fields, Shutterstock

Pumpkins

Although we associate pumpkins with fall decorations and Halloween, they aren’t typically for eating until Thanksgiving. It’s estimated about 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten on Thanksgiving day in the U.S. Different uses for pumpkins require different varieties of pumpkins to be grown, there are over 50 different pumpkin seed varieties available, each with a different end goal in mind.

In 2010 the Guinness World Record for the largest pumpkin pie ever baked was achieved by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers, weighing in at 3,699 pounds and was 20 feet in diameter!
Holidays are a time to celebrate, enjoy the good things in life, and indulge a little! Go a little extra at the dinner table this year and make sure to thank the amazing farmers that made it all possible!


Michelle Miller, the “Farm Babe,” is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and social media influencer and travels full time to advocate for agriculture. She comes from an Iowa-based row crop and livestock farming background and now resides on a timber farm in North Central Florida.

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