Bird Of Courage

As the dust slowly settles from this country’s most expensive elections ever, many are still attempting to analyze the results and just what the future may hold. The day after the election, I was impressed with the comments on Facebook from my “friends” and how they did and did not agree with all the many results of those who won, as well as those who were defeated. I don’t believe I’ve seen the use of as many Bible verses to reference an event like I did that day in all of the time I’ve been on Facebook. Must say it was pretty reassuring, along with refreshing. He does work in strange ways.

It does look like the voters have put the ball over in the 113th Congress’ court and I just hope there is some coming together with all parties involved on a lot of issues that affect this country. Maybe the 112th Congress, before it leaves, can also move on the farm bill before the end of the year that it delayed until after the election, and help our farmers plan for the spring. The farm bill will help maintain that safety net for our farmers, as well as provide the security for this country’s food supply.  

Since the elections are now over and I have mentioned “food supply,” it is also time to start planning for the next major event that involves large numbers of people gathering, counts being taken and a government declared holiday. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and election ads have given way to grocery ads displaying other forms of turkeys. These turkeys I like the best because they mean something good to eat and a time to gather to give our thanks for what is right in our lives rather than what is wrong. In fact, the turkey would have been our national emblem instead of the eagle if Benjamin Franklin had been allowed to make the selection. He wrote to his daughter after seeing the eagle emblem and remarked about the turkey, “For the truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America… He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”

Turkeys have been a favorite of Americans since the very first Thanksgiving. It continues to be the “meat of the day” for this very special occasion. In fact, Butterball reports many turkey preparers are so proud of their culinary bird they even take a photo to cherish the memory. Photos of Thanksgiving turkeys (the cooked ones, not your Uncle George who shows up every year in a green leisure suit) may be more common than you think. A survey on the Butterball Turkey Talk Line website a few years back shows that 34 percent of all respondents take a photo of their Thanksgiving turkey. And to think, all these years I spent my time making pictures of family members sitting around a table full of food with their eyes shut.

If you are making your plans for this year’s Thanksgiving meal and selecting the most photogenic bird, you will be glad to know that in a recent survey taken by the American Farm Bureau, the price for the traditional turkey day menu has only increased less than one percent over last year’s cost. The on-farm production of turkeys has been strong recently and the supply of turkeys in cold storage is about 5 percent higher today than it was a year ago. A 16-pound turkey in the 2011 survey had a price of $21.57 compared to this year’s price of $22.23, which is a 66 cent increase. Farm Bureau reports that the small price increase for turkey can be attributed to increased consumer demand. Other meats that shoppers buy have been relatively more expensive over the last quarter of the year or so and that has translated into higher demand for turkey.

The survey found that the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.48, which includes turkey, bread dressing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings. Last year the same menu had a cost of $49.20, making you only pay 28 cents more for this year’s dinner with Uncle George. Of course, he is worth the extra expense. Also in the survey it showed in addition to the turkey, dinner rolls and a combined group of miscellaneous items used to make the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) also increased slightly in price. Items that showed a price decrease from last year were whipping cream, cubed bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, a gallon of whole milk, fresh cranberries, green peas, pumpkin pie mix and pie shells.

Its time to be thankful, even if it is for the simple reason that we no longer have to listen to negative campaign ads. But, we do live in the greatest country on Earth with an abundance that many countries only wish for. Let’s take time this year to give thanks to the One who has blessed us, and may He continue to do so.



– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at