Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Only Increases By 56 Cents Over Last Year

It’s that time once again to get those pants out of the closet that expand an extra inch on each side on the old tummy and prepare for another Thanksgiving feast.It has been reported that the average Tennessean may consume as much as 3000 calories at one sitting before the sun sets Thanksgiving evening and will ask the same question each year, “Why did I do that?” The good news is that the cost of the dinner may have gone up by about 56 cents, but it is still very affordable.
With the elections behind us, the only turkeys now being thought about are those that will have a side of dressing located next to them on family dining tables across this state. I hope you get plenty on this special day for giving thanks and after you finish off that last piece of pumpkin pie and retreat to the couch in front of the TV for an afternoon nap, I hope your dreams will include Tennessee’s and America’s farmers. Without our farmers none of the traditional foods of the season would even be possible.
Aunt Sue’s dressing would have been pretty thin without the wheat and corn producer’s crop of grain this year. That whipped cream on top of the pumpkin pie was there because some dairy farmer got up early one morning and milked his cows. And, let us not forget the turkey farmer who provided the centerpiece bird with plenty of white meat for everyone.

Yes, this year’s Thanksgiving meal will be (or was, depending on when you read this) very special because of our farmers. We have a lot to be thankful for even after a year of floods, record heat and even dry weather. Our food supply is one of those blessings.
According to the American Farm Bureau’s 25th annual informal survey of the prices of basic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, the average cost of this year’s dinner for 10 is $43.47, a 56 cents price increase from last year’s average of $42.91. The survey tracks price trends for basic menu items and includes a list made up of turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of celery and carrots, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, in quantities sufficient to serve 10 people.

One hundred and twelve volunteer shoppers in 34 states participated in the survey. Every region of the country was represented. They were asked to look for the best prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals so the results would be a good gauge of price trends around the nation.
The cost of a 16-pound turkey was $17.66 or about $1.10 per pound. This reflects a decrease of 6 cents per pound, or a total of 99 cents per turkey compared to 2009. While the whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, it was also the largest price decliner compared to last year. While the inventory of whole turkeys in cold storage decreased through most of 2010 and there were 23 percent fewer turkeys in cold storage at the end of September compared to the prior year, turkey was clearly used as a price loss leader this year to attract shoppers.
Milk and whipping cream increased the most in price in this year’s survey. Milk was up 38 cents to $3.24 per gallon. Other items that showed a price increase from last year were: a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.62, up 17 cents; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.46, up 12 cents; ½ pint of whipping cream, $1.70, up 15 cents; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.19, up 7 cents; a one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, 77 cents, up 5 cents; a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.12, up 4 cents. The old law of supply and demand had a major impact on your Thanksgiving feast.
But, most of the increase in cost for the items is due to higher energy prices, regulations, processing, packaging, refrigeration and shipping costs for food. All of these do affect what we eat as we make that annual trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.

As you gather around your table and offer your prayers of thanks, remember our farmers, our country and our soldiers in foreign fields of war. And, be sure to ask God to continue to bless America.
Happy Thanksgiving!