Fall is in the air. Harvest is nearing completion. Thanksgiving is almost here. Thanksgiving brings together family and friends to share a mostly traditional meal and fellowship.
As a child growing up in a family retail food business, I recall the frenzy of making sure all the staples for the feast day were available for local shoppers. Turkey, cubed stuffing mix, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin were included on most grocery lists. Unlike today, restaurants were closed on holidays making meal planning and purchasing a priority.
Shoppers are constantly aware of prices, and food items are no exception. Since 1986, the American Farm Bureau and each state Farm Bureau has conducted a Marketbasket Survey to track prices for items used to prepare a Thanksgiving Day meal. In order to compare year-over-year prices, items such as the stuffing originate from pre-seasoned cube stuffing rather than a family recipe.
Prices are checked on a menu that includes food for 10 people with some leftovers. The survey is comprised of a 16-pound turkey, cubed stuffing, sweet potatoes, fresh cranberries, peas, brown-and-serve rolls with butter, and carrot and celery sticks. Milk and coffee are the beverage offerings. Dessert consists of two pumpkin pies with real whipped cream.
Missouri shoppers this year will find the average price for this meal rings in at $50.52. This translates into a $5.05 per-person cost. The national average was slightly less showing a total of $49.41, or $4.94 per person.
Turkey, the centerpiece of the meal, averages $1.24 per pound in Missouri, which is less than the national average of $1.35. Items from the dairy case — a gallon of whole milk, a half pint of whipping cream and butter — create the largest price increases year-over-year and compared to the national average.
Sweet potatoes were significantly higher with no real explanation. As consumer demand for fresh sweet potatoes is strong, harvested acres are expected to be up this year compared to last year.
Thanksgiving provides a wonderful time for reflection and giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy. One of the things we often take for granted is the farmer who works all year to provide food and fiber for all of us. So, as you gather to share and partake of a meal with loved ones, remember not only those who prepared it…but those who produced it.
Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, is director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization. 573-893-1414