May 03, 2016 14:25 UTC

Audio / Environment & Science

Thanksgiving, but US Turkey Farmers Aren't Celebrating

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A flock of 30-pound tom turkeys mill around in the barn at  Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen, MassachussettsA flock of 30-pound tom turkeys mill around in the barn at Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen, Massachussetts
A flock of 30-pound tom turkeys mill around in the barn at  Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen, Massachussetts
A flock of 30-pound tom turkeys mill around in the barn at Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen, Massachussetts


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From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English.

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday that Americans celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November. This autumn festival is traditionally celebrated with family and friends over a big meal that takes hours to prepare.

The meal usually includes turkey served along with dishes like cranberries, sweet potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie. The turkey is usually seasoned and roasted in an oven, but some people fry the bird in oil or cook it on a grill or in a smoker.

The National Turkey Federation estimates that Americans ate forty-six million birds for last year's holiday. The government expects turkey production to increase two percent this year. About two-thirds of the turkeys raised in the United States came from six states: Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana.

Turkey is eaten all year, and Americans have been eating more of it over the years, though chicken, beef and pork are still more popular. Federation president Joel Brandenberger says twenty-twelve will not be as profitable for turkey farmers as the last two years were. Feed costs are up while turkey prices are about the same.

"Corn is our number one feed ingredient, and the drought has obviously increased the price of corn dramatically and, frankly, the fact that an ever-increasing amount of the corn crop is being diverted to ethanol production also has increased the cost of corn. So that's created some difficulty for the industry this year." 

The Pilgrims' feast in sixteen twenty-one is often considered the nation's first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims were early settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts. They held a three-day feast to celebrate a good harvest. However, other European settlers in North America also held ceremonies of thanks. These included British colonists in Virginia in sixteen nineteen.

In eighteen sixty-three, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. In nineteen thirty-nine, as the Great Depression was ending, President Franklin Roosevelt established the holiday on the fourth Thursday. He did not want to shorten the Christmas holiday shopping season in years when November has a fifth Thursday.

The season traditionally begins with a busy shopping day on the Friday after Thanksgiving, although some stores are now opening on the holiday itself.

One of America's founders, Ben Franklin, thought the turkey would better represent the country as its official bird than the bald eagle. But Joel Brandenberger disagrees.

"I think we're better off having the bald eagle on our coins and the Thanksgiving turkey on our dinner table."
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Comment Sorting
by: lerapiniginaaor252 from: Russia
12/12/2012 2:39 AM
Peple in US really like celebrating it and I see that the are really proud of and love their country. People spend a lot for buying turkeys and it is very popular, especially at thanksgiving day. But last years were not so profitable for american farmers, because the prices on turkeys have not changed already.
I hope the celebration of this day was good without any accidents.

by: pinya from: Russia
12/12/2012 2:31 AM
Manu people died during American revolution and I think that we shouldn't forget about that.
Independence from Britain, freedom of paying taxes were main ideas for American revolutin and I think that americans were right.

by: Shige from: Japan
11/28/2012 2:02 AM
I have no experience to eat turkey. In this article, so many Americans eat turkey all year. It indicates Americans like turkey. So someone tell me how taste of turkey is.

by: Kan from: Japan
11/25/2012 2:52 PM
Why did Joel think the bald eagle is better than turkey for a coins and Thanksgiving?
Please tell me anyone!

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/27/2012 8:41 AM
Yes, I also would like to ask Ben why he considered the turkey better as America's official bird than the bald eagle. Joel perhaps might say the bald eagle is better on coins only?

by: Tom Kuo from: Taipei, Taiwan
11/23/2012 5:08 AM
As far as I know, the Friday right after Thanksgiving is also called "Black Friday" since most shops' sales figures turn black (profitable).

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/27/2012 4:14 AM
Yea, I think so. And the day of thanksgiving itself, thursday is getting called Gray Day because some stores begin to open on the thanksgiving day.

by: phanthu from: Vietnam
11/23/2012 2:16 AM
This is really helpful information. Thank you.

11/23/2012 1:04 AM
As the turkey is not withstandable to the American tongue, so is chicken to the Indian tongue. Chickens are fried , roasted, chillied, currried and what not on each and every special occasion here. The very smell of the spices fusing together with the hot flesh the bird excite one too much that he cannot keep himself from tasting its soft flesh at the first instance. Thank you.

by: Nayef from: Kuwait
11/22/2012 4:44 AM
I like eating turkey with stuffing. It's yummy! Any one has a good recipe for mashed potatoes ?

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/22/2012 3:13 AM
The origin and meanings of Thanksgiving Day seem to have some disputes between the white and indians. I've heard a demonstartion against Thanksgiving Day is annually performed in New York by indians. By the way, the Day was revived by Lincoln in eighteen sixty-three declared as a national day. It is said that he revived it in order to make a chance for American people who were fighting even against relatives to meet each other during the American Civil War. Is it true?

In Japan, we seldom eat turkey except for Christmas eve dinner. Yet it's true cheeper chiken ususally substitutes for expensive turkey no matter if drought attacks Japan.