Which US States (and Farmers) Win at the Thanksgiving Table?

November 23, 2017

For certain American farmers, there’s no more important holiday than Thanksgiving. With holiday food traditions largely unchanged in US culture since the 1950s, the late November surge in demand for turkey, cranberries, and pumpkins among other vegetables, is the driving force for many farmers’ toil all year.  Find out which US farmers are making their year from your Thanksgiving meal.

Minnesota Top for Turkey

According to the US Census Bureau, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America, with about 49 million produced annually. Add North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia, Missouri, and Indiana turkeys to those from Minnesota and you’ve got two-thirds of the birds raised in the United States.

Although four companies monopolize turkey production in the US: Cargill, Hormel, Butterball and Farbest Foods are responsible for half of the turkey consumed on Thanksgiving Day. And recent decisions by the Trump administration are not making things easier for individual Turkey farmers.

Illinois Processes Most Pumpkins

The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Canned vegetable company Libby’s (owned by Nestle) maintains massive market share in the pumpkin pie market, selling 80% of the canned pumpkin in the US, all canned in the town or Morton, Illinois. A bumper crop of pumpkins this year means that there is more than enough to supply the seemingly unending number of items that can be pumpkin-flavored from coffee to yogurt. Nielsen says that pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages are up 45% since 2013 and 6% since last year.

Idaho Makes Mash

Potatoes are the number one vegetable for growers in the US, with commercial growers in 30 of the 50 states. And if you guessed Idaho is number one for potatoes, you’d be right. Idaho produces 13 billion pounds of potatoes per year — most of these are russets, where high starch make them ideal for mashing (though this is controversial). 

Wisconsin Carries the Cranberries

Wisconsin is the US’s largest producer of cranberries, currently growing about 57% of the country’s total production. About 20% of annual cranberry sales happen during Thanksgiving week, but a glut in production has growers that some of their crops will go to waste. Cranberry purchasers already had enough inventory to get through the holiday before growers’ September harvest and are now waiting for regulatory approval to convert some excess into fertilizer for the first time ever according to Farm Futures.

Wisconsin Top of the Bean Stalk

Green beans, also called snap beans, are grown in many different states and climates from New York to Florida, but Wisconsin tops them all, producing a third of the US supply. Green bean casserole, however, was reportedly invented in New Jersey by a Campbell Soup employee in 1955.

Georgia Nuts for Pecans

Though pecan pie plays second fiddle to pumpkin at Thanksgiving, this southern treat is still unlikely to make it to Friday leftovers. Pecan orchards have expanded somewhat beyond their ancestral home of the American south with commercial growers in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. Georgia wins out in overall production by far producing 90 million pounds in 2015.

Washington is Swimming in Oysters

If you put oysters in your stuffing, you can likely thank Washington state’s fisheries and aquaculture operations. Washington state has nearly 200 aquaculture farms. However, if your oysters are coming from a can they’re more like coming from South Korea or China.

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at AgFunder!

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