Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

Of course Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter also compete for that distinction. Unlike other holidays, Thanksgiving brings no obligation to purchase gifts or go overboard on decorations. It is truly a holiday to be enjoyed.

As a child growing up, Thanksgiving Day fellowship centered around a large meal that brought families and friends together. It was something you didn’t want to miss. Once it was determined who would host the meal, it was time to think about food specialties or new recipes to introduce to the group.

Back in those days, businesses closed at the end of the day Wednesday, not to reopen until Friday morning, and not at 3:00 a.m. Shopping had to be done before stores closed or you were simply out of luck. There wasn’t a restaurant in my small town but those in larger ones were closed so that families could be together. In today’s time-pressed society, many restaurants specialize in offering holiday meals and families choose to eat out or purchase a catered meal to enjoy at home.

The Thanksgiving meal is one of the few that is distinguished by certain menu items. With turkey as the centerpiece, it is typically accompanied by stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and of course pie. Pumpkin and pecan pie rival for top billing. Of course, every family has their favorite foods, and although some family members are better cooks than others, you get to choose your favorites and how much to indulge in all that is offered.

It is a time for many families to reflect on things for which they are thankful. My hope is that farmers are on the list. They work 365 days a year to provide everyone with healthy, nutritious, safe and affordable food choices.

For 32 years, the American Farm Bureau and the Missouri Farm Bureau have collected and compared costs associated with the Thanksgiving Day meal. The items surveyed include a 16-lb turkey, pre-seasoned stuffing, fresh cranberry sauce, peas, sweet potatoes, relish tray, brown-and-serve rolls, pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, and for beverages, whole milk and coffee.

Consumers will find the 2017 prices in Missouri slightly lower than the national average and down slightly from 2016. Missouri shoppers found the average cost was $47.83 and provided a meal for ten people with leftovers. Each meal would cost around $4.78. The national average of $49.12 revealed a per person cost of $4.91. The in-state price per pound for turkey averaged $1.21 and the national average was $1.40, which accounted for most of the difference.

The Missouri prices that surpassed those from the national results included items from the dairy counter…..milk, cream and butter.

Whether eating at home or at a restaurant, as we gather for Thanksgiving, let’s remember that farmers across the state, nation and world provide us with food choices we enjoy every day.

Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, Mo. is director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.

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