PUTNAM COUNTY — Happy Thanksgiving to all! Did you know that early Thanksgiving celebrations in the New World featured main dishes other than turkey? The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth Colony shared the first Thanksgiving celebration as we know it in 1621. Together, they enjoyed a feast of waterfowl and venison with some wild turkey, Indian corn, squash and other vegetables. Our modern day Thanksgiving side dishes like cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, peas, applesauce, dinner rolls and pumpkin pie had not yet been introduced into North America or the New World diet.

What will be on your Thanksgiving dinner table this year? Most likely, there will be at least one turkey. In fact, almost 9 out of every 10 Americans feast on turkey – which adds up to 46 million turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving Day!

Each year over 240 million turkeys are raised in the US. The majority of birds are reared in Minnesota, North Carolina and Arkansas. Ohio farms now rank 10th in the nation and raise nearly 7 million birds annually – providing over 280 million pounds of turkey each year! The majority of turkeys raised are sold as whole turkeys or as value-added items like deli meat and ground turkey.

Male turkeys are called toms and female turkeys are hens. Toms and hens are raised separately, but both are fed a high protein feed of corn and soybean meal with added nutrients. Hens are raised for 12-14 weeks until they reach approximately 14-15 pounds and are often processed as whole birds. Toms are raised for 16-18 weeks and weigh 35+ pounds. Toms are often further processed to make value- added items like ground turkey, turkey sausage, deli meat, and more.

So just how much does a typical Thanksgiving meal cost? For the last 32 years, Farm Bureau has been tracking the cost of a Thanksgiving meal that generously feeds 10 people. After adjusting for inflation, 2018 marks the lowest cost for a Thanksgiving meal since 2010. Farm Bureau estimates that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner costs $48.90, down 22 cents from 2017, with the turkey accounting for nearly half of the cost. A typical 16-pound turkey is estimated to cost $21.71 this season. At roughly $1.36 per pound, this is a four-cent per pound decrease from last year.

No matter what food items adorn your dinner table this holiday season, Thanksgiving Day gives us an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate our food, family, friends, farms and farmers, and so much more. Happy Turkey Day to you and yours this coming week!

For additional information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at Scheckelhoff.11@ osu.edu or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.