A toast to farmers this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving is truly an all-American holiday. And there’s no better reflection of American agriculture and its diversity than the Thanksgiving table. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner features foods grown across the United States, from sea to shining sea.

Here’s a closer look at where your Thanksgiving favorites likely came from, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

- Turkey – Our neighbor to the north, Minnesota, is the top turkey-producing state. Iowa ranks ninth nationally in turkey production and is home to two turkey processors, Sara Lee Foods of Storm Lake and West Liberty Foods, which supply deli meats to Subway restaurants, among others.

- Cranberries – Wisconsin is number one in cranberry production. Wisconsin cranberries are grown in marshes, which are flooded at harvest so the berries can “float” for easier collection.

- Sweet potatoes – North Carolina ranks above all others in sweet potato production. Fun fact: Sweet potatoes are native to North Carolina and were grown by American Indians when Columbus discovered America.

- Pumpkin and pecans – Another neighboring state, Illinois, is the nation’s leading pumpkin producer. Prefer pecan pie over pumpkin? The pecans likely came from top-producers Texas and Georgia.

- Bread and stuffing – One-third of the country’s wheat crop, the primary ingredient in breads, stuffing and pie crust, is grown in North Dakota, Kansas and Montana.

- Green beans – It isn’t Thanksgiving without green bean casserole. Wisconsin ranks first in the nation in snap (green) bean production.

You may notice that Iowa isn’t listed as a top producer of our favorite Thanksgiving foods. But that doesn’t mean our state isn’t invited to the table.

Iowa is the nation’s leader in corn, soybean, egg and pork production. The eggs in your pumpkin pie likely came from Iowa, as did the bacon in your green bean casserole. (Everything is better with bacon.)

Iowa farmers also grow the corn and soybeans used to feed turkeys in Minnesota and across the country.
Our highly-productive farms make U.S. agriculture the envy of the world. It’s why we Americans should never take our food, and farmers, for granted.

So let’s raise a glass of wine (yes, many Iowa farmers grow grapes), or milk if you prefer (got to support those Iowa dairy farmers), to the U.S. farmers who fill our plates on Thanksgiving and year-round.

Written by Teresa Bjork
Teresa is a features Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.