1. Cranberry farmers are financially struggling this year, though the U.S. is easily the world’s #1 producer. With about 80 percent of the world’s cranberries grown in just seven U.S. states, it’s hard to imagine cranberry farmers are struggling. But cranberry farmers like David Popp can barely break even as the price of fuel for irrigation, transportation and fertilizer increases while the demand of cranberries drops. Too many cranberries, not enough folks making cranberry sauce.
2. Pecans are a heck of a lot more expensive this year, and we can blame China’s new pecan craze. According to Beth Goulart’s piece (of pie) in Slate, in 2009 the Chinese didn’t even have a name for Pecans. Now, the upper middle class has an extra buck to spend, and they are paying to import about 83 million pounds. (The U.S. still takes the lead in pecan consumption, though, at almost 303 million pounds per year.)
3. Sweet Potatoes are not yams. And most aren’t even orange. The U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Japan are the only countries that primarily consume orange-fleshed varieties of sweet potatoes, which make up only 5 percent of the total production of sweet potatoes. North Carolina, whose state vegetable is the sweet potato, produces about 40 percent of sweet potatoes in the U.S. This year, early rain in NC caused a decrease in sweet potato harvest by 20 percent in comparison to last year.
4. Pumpkin in your pie most likely came from Illinois, the largest producer of pumpkins in the U.S. In 2012, about 12,000 acres of pumpkins were grown. About 5,000 of those acres are designated exclusively for the leading canned-pumpkin producer, Libby’s. Pumpkin products in general have increased by about 19 percent, and pumpkin sales have increased over the last few years. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, in 2012, almost 12.4 million cwt of pumpkins were were harvested from 47,800 acres in the U.S. That’s about 16 percent increase.
5. Turkey farmers face a huge monopoly of just four companies that lead the U.S. in turkey farming. According to Christopher Leonard of the Washington Post, just four corporations — Cargill, Hormel, Butterball and Farbest Foods — are responsible for half of the turkey consumed on Thanksgiving Day. That’s quite a monopoly. But this year, news of Butterball’s Turkey shortage had some forecasting a big opportunity for small farmers to gobble up some of the turkey business. Regardless of where we got your turkey, we hope you snagged one.