Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. based readers! For those of you who aren’t quite up to speed on the holiday, it stems from when the Pilgrims landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. After a hard winter in which many people died and with assistance from local Native American tribes, 1621 was one of prosperity and to celebrate the bountiful harvest the Pilgrims held a three-day feast. Fast forward to 1863 when U.S. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be a national holiday and a day of Thanksgiving. President Franklin Roosevelt moved it forward slightly to help extend the shopping season during the Great Depression and finally in 1941 the U.S. Congress settled on the fourth Thursday of November as the official date of Thanksgiving.
Thanks to the tireless workers over at the U.S. Census Bureau, we have a number of statistics for you today on this day of thanks:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- $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.
- 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.
- $1.38 – Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2010.
- 116.7 million – Number of households across the nation – all (hopefully) gathering to celebrate the holiday.