This Thanksgiving as I sit down with family and friends to share a special meal I will do so with a strange cloud of pride and concern hanging over the festivities; pride because of the amazing productivity, innovation and hard work of America’s family farmers that make the meal – and our very existence – possible. And concern because about 15% of U.S. households — 17.4 million families — lacked enough money to feed themselves at some point last year, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
I don’t bring this up to give you guilt or make your turkey taste less succulent, but to perhaps make you more understanding of what a gift our efficient farms really are and to help us all be sufficiently thankful that share that bounty.
On the positive side the U.S. continues to have the safest, most affordable food in the world. A classic turkey feast with all the fixings for 10 people will cost $43.47 this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey. The total cost rose 56 cents, or about 1.3 percent, from last year’s $42.91 average. Both figures are lower than the cost from two years ago, when the meal cost $44.61.
Turkey, a Thanksgiving staple, came in at $17.66 this year, roughly 6 cents per pound cheaper than last year. Unbelievable compared to food costs in many other nations. And yet 6.8 million of American households — with as many as 1 million children — are having ongoing financial problems that force them to miss meals regularly.
The number of food insecure homes has tripled compared with 2006, before the recession brought double-digit unemployment. Sure the vast majority of Americans continue to worry more about their expanding waste line than where their next meal is coming from, but this perhaps makes the hunger situation even more tragic.
So there you have it…..a meager increase of 1.3% in the cost of an already affordable meal and yet it remains out of the reach of way to many Americans. My best advice is to recognize the problem while not being overwhelmed by it. A small effort to help by lots of people can result in astounding progress.
Interestingly enough the aforementioned food producers are already acting as a model donating everything from corn to pork to eggs and even fresh produce to foodbanks from Missouri to Illinois to New Mexico…and it goes on and on.
Yet another reason to thank a farmer!