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Opinion: Thanksgiving less expensive for Missourians

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Thanksgiving, gateway to the holiday season, is upon us. Whether we gather in homes to share meals, eat out or utilize a meal delivery service, most people enjoy the traditional meal with turkey as the centerpiece of the menu.

As a child growing up, I fondly remember the meal shared with a large group of special people. Each family contributed to the feast by bringing a family favorite recipe, or in some cases a new recipe for an unsuspecting audience.

Since 1986, the American Farm Bureau has surveyed prices for ingredients that comprise the classic Thanksgiving Day meal. The menu includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberries, rolls with butter and pumpkin pie. Milk and coffee are included for beverages. In an effort to compare prices year over year, the list relies on prepackaged items rather than family recipes.

The Missouri Farm Bureau organizes shoppers at local grocery stores to contribute to the national survey. This year, Missouri shoppers found that a meal for 10 people with leftovers would cost $46.67, or $4.67 per person. Significant price declines were seen in turkey, sweet potatoes, cubed stuffing and cranberries. The average price for turkeys recorded in the survey was $1.31 per pound, compared with $1.56 last year. Cranberries dropped to $2.24 from $2.41 for a 12-ounce bag; sweet potatoes moved down to 87 cents per pound from $1.14; and stuffing mix dropped to $2.19 from $2.41.

The national average for this classic meal was $48.91, or $4.89 per person. Missouri consumers are paying less for most items, with the exception of turkey, frozen pie shells, whipping cream and whole milk. These prices are collected prior to Thanksgiving week so that shoppers gather everyday prices. As the holiday approaches, many stores advertise deep discounts on items such as turkey. Some even give away a turkey if shoppers purchase a certain item like a ham.

2019 has brought challenges to farmers across the state. Flooding displaced many and left fields unplanted. Due to heavy rains, others were late in planting and thus harvesting. Wintry conditions moved in early, further complicating harvest.

As we gather to celebrate, be mindful of the farmers who, despite the challenges, take their job of providing food and fiber seriously and continue to work to feed the world.

Diane Olson is director of promotion and education for the Missouri Farm Bureau in Jefferson City. She can be reached at dolson@mofb.com.

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