10 Jaw-Dropping Statistics About Thanksgiving Food

Thanksgiving Meal

Photo: Flickr/ Erin Kohlenberg

The contemporary Thanksgiving menu is a far cry from what the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe feasted on that historic autumn of 1621 to celebrate the colony’s first successful corn harvest. In fact, there is only one written account of the first Thanksgiving, and turkey isn’t mentioned.

And because the Pilgrims didn’t have a large sugar supply, the meal probably did not include pies, cakes, and other sweet treats either.

Nearly four centuries ago, diners likely enjoyed seal, swans, venison, and duck, perhaps prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods.

Eventually, however, the big meaty bird became a staple of the modern Thanksgiving dinner — along with sides dishes like mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and string beans, and desserts like pumpkin and pecan pies. And for that, we are very thankful!

248 Million

The number of turkeys raised in the United States in 2011. That's up 2 per cent from the number raised in 2010.

Minnesota is the biggest turkey-producing state, at 46.6 million turkeys.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

16 pounds

The expected consumption of turkey by the average American in 2011.

Source: eatturkey.com


656,340 tons

The 2011 contracted production of snap (green) beans in major snap (green) bean-producing states, down from 736,680 tons in 2010.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

2.4 billion pounds

The total weight of sweet potatoes produced by major sweet-potato-producing states in 2010.

North Carolina led the country (972 million pounds), followed by California (639 million pounds), and Louisiana (247 million pounds).

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$117 million

The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states in 2010, up from $103 million in 2009.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

266 million pounds

The nation's forecasted tart cherry production for 2011. That's up 40 per cent from the 2010 production.

The largest producing state, Michigan, expects to produce 210 million pounds of cherries this year.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

7.5 million barrels

The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2011, up 10% from 2010.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin produce all of the nation's cranberry supply.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

1.06 billion pounds

Total pumpkin production in top-six pumpkin-producing states in 2010.

Illinois produced the most pumpkins (425.4 million pounds), followed by California (186 million pounds), New York (146.2 million pounds), Ohio (110.4 million pounds), Pennsylvania (97.2 million pounds), and Michigan (95.2 million pounds).

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

12.3 billion bushels

The total forecast for U.S. corn production in 2011, down from 12.5 billion bushels in 2010.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

$4.37 billion

The total value of turkeys produced in the United States in 2010, up 22% from $3.57 billion in 2009.

Together, they weighed 7.11 billion pounds.

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Now learn how turkey goes from farm to factory to table food...

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