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Thanksgiving Day: A few facts... PDF Print E-mail



In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.


248 million: The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2011. That’s up 2 percent from the number raised during 2010. The turkeys produced in 2010 together weighed 7.11 billion pounds and were valued at $ 4.37 billion. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

46.5 million: The preliminary estimate of turkeys Minnesota is expected to raise in 2011. The Gopher State was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (30.0 million), Arkansas (30.0 million), Missouri (18.0 million), Virginia (17.5 million) and Indiana (16.0 million). These six states together account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2011. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

750 million pounds: The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2011. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 430 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (210 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 17 million to 54 million pounds. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

2.4 billion pounds: The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2010. North Carolina (972 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

1.1 billion pounds: Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2010. Illinois led the country by producing 427 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, New York and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $117 million. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

If you prefer cherry pie, you will be pleased to learn that the nation’s forecasted tart cherry production for 2011 totals 266.1 million pounds, up 40 percent from the 2010 production. Of this 2011 total, the overwhelming majority (210.0 million pounds) will be produced in Michigan. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

2.01 billion bushels: The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2011. Kansas, Montana and North Dakota accounted for about 33 percent of the nation’s wheat production. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

  656,340 tons: The 2011 contracted production of snap (green) beans in major snap (green) bean-producing states. Of this total, Wisconsin led all states (258,320 tons). Many Americans consider green bean casserole a traditional Thanksgiving dish. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$7.8 million: The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys from January through July of 2011 — 99.7 percent from Canada. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 60.1 percent ($3.2 million) of total imports ($5.3 million). The United States ran a $3.6 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $41.7 million in sweet potatoes. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics

13.3 pounds: The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2009, with no doubt a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.3 pounds. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012, Tables 217 and 218

Original Source: US Census Bureau