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The U.S. Census Bureau reports that what many consider to be our nation’s first Thanksgiving took place in December 1621, as the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. It eventually 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.
Most Americans celebrate by watching football and parades on television, followed by a feast of turkey and cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. But have you ever thought of where all of those culinary delights come from and the farming industries that put these foods on our tables?
The Census reports that an estimated 265 million turkeys were raised in the United States in 2006, with Minnesota being the number-one producer. In 2004, the typical American consumed 13.4 pounds of turkey,
Cranberry production was expected to be 664 million pounds in 2006, with most coming from Wisconsin.
In 2005, 1.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were produced in the United States. North Carolina (595 million pounds) produced the most, followed by California (351 million pounds).
And don’t forget about dessert: 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin were produced in 2005, with Illinois leading the country by producing 497 million pounds.
What's your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? Is it the turkey or the pumpkin pie, the football games, or spending time with family near and far?