SJ Valley farms contribute turkey, trimmings to holiday meals

Tim Hearden

Capital Press

As Americans enjoy their holiday feasts, there's a good chance at least one of the items on their table originated from a farm or ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley, the Fresno County Farm Bureau is noting in a media campaign.

As families sat down for their Thanksgiving meals, chances were good that something on their table originated from California’s San Joaquin Valley.

In fact, the star of the meal — the turkey — was among Fresno County’s top crops in 2012, as more than 3.5 million of the birds were produced recording more than 97.4 million pounds of live weight, according to the county Farm Bureau.

During the same year, poultry — including turkeys — was Fresno County’s number three crop, valued at more than $728.5 million, according to the county Department of Agriculture’s 2012 crop and livestock report.

The local Farm Bureau office has been working to publicize these facts through the media as the season of holiday feasts proceeds. The growers want the region’s residents to realize that a diverse variety of wholesome, fresh food is available to them locally, said Ryan Jacobsen, the Fresno Farm Bureau’s executive director.

“I think particularly when you talk about thanksgiving, so much about the day … revolves around the meal, so there’s not a better point to emphasize and focus on the farmers and ranchers who brought that food to individuals’ tables,” he said. “It’s something we would wish that people would recognize year-round, but we felt it was a timely issue to utilize what so many people enjoy on their Thanksgiving day to talk about what it took to produce that.”

The valley is a focal point for Christmas meals, too, as much of the ham consumed in the West comes from pork producers in Merced County and other parts of the region, Jacobsen said.

The valley is also home to many of the fixings and food ingredients used during the holidays. For instance, Fresno County alone produces 153,848 acres of almonds, 63,041 acres of wine grapes, 2.2 million pounds of honey and 1.36 million tons of milk products, the local Farm Bureau reports.

Americans paid slightly less this year to assemble their Thanksgiving feasts, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 28th annual informal price survey of classic items found at the dinner table that day. The average cost of this year’s feast for 10 people was $49.04, a 44-cent drop from last year, the AFBF reported.

The AFBF survey’s shopping list included turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk.

The big-ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at $21.76 this year, a decrease of 47 cents from 2012, according to the AFBF.


Fresno County Farm Bureau: