2017-11-22 / Editorial

Be thankful for low cost of holiday meal

Thanksgiving for many families is a cherished time to gather with family for the first of the holiday season get-togethers — and sitting down at the table for a delicious meal of food, much of which is grown and raised right here in Lapeer County and Michigan, is special indeed.

Lapeer County is home to nearly 1,100 working farms — from a couple dozen acres to several thousand — and we’re thankful for the long hours put in by local families and hired help to bring us much of the food we’ll consume on Thanksgiving.

Diners can give thanks that the price of this year’s Thanksgiving Day meal has gone down.

The average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease compared with last year’s average of $49.87, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 32nd annual price survey.

The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at a total of $22.38 this year. That’s roughly $1.40 per pound, a decrease of 2 cents per pound, or a total of 36 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2016, according to Michigan Farm Bureau Livestock Dairy Specialist, Ernie Birchmeier.

“The cost of the dinner is the lowest since 2013 and second-lowest since 2011,” Birchmeier said. “American consumers hopefully recognize and are thankful that even as family farmers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year.”

According to the Michigan Ag Council, Michigan ranks 15th in the nation in turkey production and comprises 3 percent of the turkey industry by volume. And according to Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, total annual turkey production in Michigan is 6 million birds, with an economic impact to the state totaling $100 million.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest decreases this year in addition to turkey, were a gallon of milk, $2.99; a dozen rolls, $2.26; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.45; a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes, $3.52; a 1-pound bag of green peas, $1.53; and a group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $2.72.

Milk production has increased in Michigan, resulting in continued low retail prices. Lapeer County and the Thumb region is an increasingly productive sector of Michigan dairy production. Grocers often use milk as a loss leader to entice consumers to shop at their stores, making it an increased value that is not only good for the body — but good the local economy as well.

It’s too easy to forget what it takes to get our food from the farm to our kitchen table. We go to the store and carefully pick out each ingredient, forgetting about the feeding, processing, packaging and inspection that goes into everything we buy.

No matter if you grew up on a farm or in an urban area, your Thanksgiving turkey was grown by a farmer who has dedicated their life to bringing it to your table.

Farming is often a thankless job, but not today. We owe so much gratitude to the men and women of Lapeer County we see harvesting their fields.

Giving thanks to our local farm community can be more than a gesture. It can be as simple as buying a cup of coffee, stopping to say “thank you” or just waving to the tractor operators as you pass on your daily commute through farm country.

This holiday season, as you sit down with your family, think beyond the turkey and remember to thank a farmer.

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