The Thanksgiving holiday, sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, often occurs without fanfare. By October, department stores are decked out for Christmas while carols fill the air. What happened to November and the Thanksgiving holiday I remember as a child?
As I reflect on Thanksgivings past, I am reminded of a wonderful day. I remember the sounds and smells coming from the kitchen. My mom rose early Thanksgiving morning to start preparing the traditional feast for family and friends. There was turkey to be roasted, dressing to be made from the bread heels and cornbread that had been stashed in the freezer, cranberries to be ground with oranges and pies, lots of them to bake. We each had our tasks to perform. I got to tear the bread and if my brother and I worked as a team, could use the grinder to make the cranberry orange relish.
Like clockwork, it all came together about noon. Guests would arrive bringing their favorite dish to complete the meal. There was sure to be at least one green Jell-O concoction, sweet potatoes with lots of marshmallows and a cake with fluffy icing. If my luck held out, it would be chocolate.
Once dinner was over, the adults visited and the kids went outside to play, weather permitting. Often my brothers and I would be tasked with delivering meals to neighbors who were homebound or alone. It was a day of food, fellowship and rest.
Through the years traditions change but the fare for the Thanksgiving meal tends to remain constant. Preparation for the meal may have shifted from home-cooked to catered meals or eating out.
For 31 years, the American Farm Bureau and Missouri Farm Bureau have been tracking food prices for a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal for 10 people. This includes a 16-pound turkey, stuffing, cranberries, peas, relish tray, sweet potatoes, brown-and-serve rolls, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of milk and coffee. Leftovers would be likely unless appetites were huge.
The 2016 prices remained steady both at the state and national levels. Missouri prices for those items in 2016 rang in at $50.46 or $5.05 per person. In 2015 shoppers paid $51.92 or $5.19 per person. On the national level, shoppers this year paid $49.87 or $4.99 per person.
Turkey prices were slightly higher, despite the strong inventory, with an average per pound price of $1.42 both in Missouri and across the nation. As Thanksgiving approaches, often turkey prices drop more as many stores use them as a loss leader to attract shoppers or pair them with other promotions.
Dairy prices were down significantly across the board. Milk, butter and whipping cream were all lower in price this year. Highly processed items such as the brown-and-serve rolls increased in price.
Food for Thanksgiving or any meal doesn’t magically appear on the table. Farmers work throughout the year to offer choices that meet consumer demands. As we count our blessings this year, let’s include those who provide our food and fiber.
Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, Mo. is director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization