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The Cost of the Thanksgiving Meal

Agfact #19

On the average,the Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings is just under $5 a person.

 

A holiday meal for 10 only costs $49.48. American Farm Bureau estimated that the cost of the Thanksgiving dinner is up only 1/2 percent from last year.  While the Turkey increased slightly in price, other items like whipping cream-milk-sweat potatoes-pumpkin pie mix-peas-fresh cranberries cost less then last year.

This Thanksgiving season take the time to reflect on the farm families that raise your food.  Trust me your Thanksgiving meal did not just come from the grocery store.  U.S. Farmers and Ranchers work hard every day battling Mother Nature to raise crops and livestock for your dinner table. Do you have question about farming? Just ask me, an American Farmer, and I would be happy to share information about farming.

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Ag Facts

 

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Make Room for the Turkey

The main dish at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 was the Turkey.  Although wild turkey still roam the United States today, it was probably the Pilgrims who brought tame turkeys to the new world.  Through the years, Thanksgiving dinners has always been about the Turkey.

Traditionally raising Turkeys on the farm was a seasonal adventure due to the need of temperature control for the bird’s survival. In th mid-1920s, moderation of facility with a protective environment made it possible to raise Turkeys year round.

The United States in the number one producer of Turkeys, raising 7.1 pounds valuing at $4.4 billion. Minnesota is the leading state in Turkey production.

White or Dark Meat

Did you ever wonder why the breast and wings of chickens and turkeys have white meat while the legs and thighs are dark? The explanation is   a physiological one involving the function of muscles, which gives some   insight into humans as well as animals. The dark coloration is not due   to the amount of blood in muscles but rather to a specific muscle type  and it’s ability to store oxygen.

Other Main Dishes

If you are like me the Turkey is not exactly your meat of choice.  While the Turkey is the animal protein of choice for the first Thanksgiving, it does not have to be your choice.  Ranchers across the United States produce a wide range of nutrient-rich animal proteins. My personal favorite is Certified Angus Beef but you may enjoy a roasted pork loin or lamp chops.

As you sit down around the table with your family and friends to enjoy feast of choice and count their blessings, remember to say a extra thank you for the farm families that turn natural resources into food and products every household uses daily.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in food

 

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Dairy Goodness

Immigrants brought Dairy cows by ship from Europe to provided milk and meat for their families.  Realizing the first Thanksgiving probably did not include goodness from the dairy animals but as settlers came to America  so did dairy cows.

At the turn of the century, cities grew and the demand for mass production of milk and other dairy products sparked innovation.  Significant inventions such as commercial milk bottles, milking machines, tuberculin tests for cattle, pasteurization equipment, refrigerated milk tank cars, and automatic bottling machines contributed towards making milk a healthful and commercially viable product.

It is important to remember that whole milk from dairy cows, sheep, or goats is the raw product to produce all other dairy products:  cheese, whipping cream, butter, and ice cream. It is no secret that dairy products especially milk are vital to the development of strong bones and reduce the risk for developing rickets and osteoporosis.  Rule of thumb:  It takes 3 cups of cooked broccoli to equal the calcium in 1 cup of milk, 1 oz of cheese contains 8 grams of protein, and 8 oz serving of low fat yogurt contains the same potassium as banana.

Presently, Thanksgiving menus will include some type of dairy product from milk in the glass to whipping cream on desserts.  In 2010, U.S. Dairy farms produced 192.8 billion pounds of milk valuing at $31.4 billion.  Wisconsin and California have always battled for bragging rights as top producing state. California “Happy Cows” moved ahead in 1993 in total fluid milk, butter, ice cream, and nonfat dairy production.  However, Wisconsin remains number one producer of cheese.

The collection of milk would not be possible without hardworking farmers-Thank You- who enter a new level of commitment by milking two to three times a day.  While the total dollars brought into our nation’s economy seems like a large sum, it is must be noted that the price the farmer receives for milk in recent years have been so low that some have said they are paying for milk to be hauled off the farm for processing instead of being paid for the raw product.  Did you know that when you purchase 1 gallon of Milk at $4.39 the Farmer’s Share is $1.71?

Dairy Trivia:

  • The average cow produces enought milk each day to fill six one-gallon jugs, about 55 pounds of milk
  • It takes more than 21lbs of whole milk to make 1lb of butter
  • Dairy farms are located in all 50 States
  • It takes 12lbs of whole milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream

Visit Midwest Dairy Farmers for great videos

Sources:

Ag Marketing Resource Center

Midwest Dairy Association (photos, videos, and other great info)

National Ag Library

National Farmers Union

Unversity of Illinois Extension

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in food

 

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Cranberry, the Power-Packed Fruit

The Pilgrims first named this unique fruit “Craneberry” for its small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring and resembles the head and the bill of a Sandhill Crane.  The Cranberry joins the Blueberry and Concord Grape as North America’s Native fruits.  Native Americans first discovered this wild berry and used it for food, fabric dye, and a healing agent.  European settlers adopted the uses for the fruit and the berry become a valuable bartering item.

By 1871, the first association of cranberry growers in the United States had formed, and now, U.S. farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year. Captain Henry Hall -Dennis, Massachusetts, discovered that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them.  He transplanted the vines, fencing them in, and spread sand by hand.  Cultivation of the cranberry began shortly after that.

Cranberries do not grow in water but on vines in impermeable beds, layered with sand, peat, gravel, and clay. The growing season begins in April and last through November.  These beds are commonly known as “bogs” and were formed by glacier deposits.

Harvesting Cranberries provided by Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association

Cranberries are grown through out the northern part of the United States producing 679.6 million pounds of cranberries in 2010, valued at $456 million. Wisconsin farmers raise more than half of the nation’s cranberries followed by Massachusetts. The cranberry industry provides nearly $300 million annually to Wisconsin’s economy.

 The Native Americans first discover the health benefit of the Cranberry. Cranberries are rich in fiber, vitamin C, flavonoids, phenols and other substances that help protect against health problems like urinary tract infections, and chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

About 95 percent of cranberries consumed int he U.S. are processed into to juice and juice blends. Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative owned by more than 650 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and other parts of Canada as well as more than 100 Florida grapefruit growers. Ocean Spray was formed 75 years ago by three cranberry growers from Massachusetts and New Jersey. It accounts for about 80 percent of raw cranberry in-take.

Ride Along with Oregon State for Cranberry Harvest:

An Educational Video from Canada-Cranberries going to Ocean Spray Juice Company:

Photo Slideshow provided by Wisconsin Growers

Cranberry Trivia

  • There are approximately 333 cranberries in 1 pound, 3,333 cranberries in 1 gallon of juice, and 33,333 cranberries in a 100 pound barrel.
  • About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining 5% are sold fresh to consumers.
  • The average number of cranberries used per can of sauce is 200.
  • Some cranberry beds are over 100 years old and still producing.
  • Cranberries are almost 90% water.
  • On average, every acre of cranberry bog is supported by 4 to 10 acres of wetlands, woodlands and uplands. This area offers refuge to a rich variety of wildlife including the bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, fox, deer and wild turkey.
  • Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with 26 cranberries.

Sources:

Pacific Coast Cranberry Web

Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association

Cranberry Institute

Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in food

 

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The Great Pumpkin

Thanksgiving is a holiday for family and friends to sit down around the table to enjoy feast of choice and count their blessings. The first Thanksgiving feast between the Pilgrims and Indians was a three-day celebration of a Great Harvest. Many American Families will partake in this annual feast first proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln as a National Holiday.

America is blessed with hardworking farm families that provide a variety of abundant, inexpensive food.  As Thanksgiving fast approaches, I hope you follow along as I share a glimpse from field to table on common food dishes served on Thanksgiving Day. I hope you see why we should be Food Thankful on Thanksgiving and every day.

PUMPKINS

I think it is only fitting to start with desert first.  After all my home state of Illinois-land of Corn and Soybeans-actually ranks #1 in Production.

The pumpkin originated from Central America.   In early Colonial times, the pumpkin was original used in the crust of pies and not the filling. Colonists actually cut off the top of pumpkins, removed the seeds and filled the inside with milk, spices, and honey.  The pumpkin was then baked over hot ashes to create the original form of the pumpkin pie.

Today, pumpkins are mainly grown for processing with a small percentage grown for decoration.  A total of 1.06 billion pounds of Pumpkins, valuing $117 million, were grown on 50,200 acres in the United States in 2010.  Illinois leads the states in growing over 4 million pounds.  Morton, Illinois has been crowned Pumpkin Capital of the World with 85% of the world’s pumpkins processed at the Libby’s Plant owned by Nestle Food Company.

The pumpkin is actually a fruit that grows on vines.  It is 90% water and packed full of potassium and Vitamin A.  The seeds of the pumpkins are edible and usually are roasted for a tasty snack. Pumpkins are used to make soups, pies, and breads.

You can Virtually Visit a large Pumpkin Farm;

Watch as they plant, grow, and harvest Pumpkins for Libby’s.

Other Videos:

Pumpkin Harvest in Illinois brought to you by Illinois Farm Bureau

Pumpkin Trivia:

  • The largest Pumpkin Pie ever made was over 5 feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds.  It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkins, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs, and 6 hours to bake
  • The largest Pumpkin weighted 1, 140 pounds
  • Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats.
  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

Source:  University of Illinois Extension

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in food

 

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