Header Photo by mroach / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by tuchodl / CC BY 2.0
We all know the star of the Thanksgiving Day show is the turkey! Your turkey might have come from one of these top turkey producing states: Minnesota, North Carolina, Missouri, Arkansas, and Virginia*
Here are some fast turkey facts:
Turkey is low in fat and high in protein
It is a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins
Cartoon turkeys you normally see are actually dark feathered or wild turkeys. Farmers typically raise a different breed of turkeys which are more efficient at producing meat. These turkeys have white feathers.
Did you know? Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the official United States bird. Dismayed by news of the selection of the bald eagle, Franklin replied, “The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original of America.”*
Learn more about turkey from farm to fork with this classroom resource: Poultry Ag Mag
Cranberries are native to America! Do cranberries grow in water? You might have seen pictures that make you think so, but cranberries don’t actually grow in water! They grow on dry land and are harvested using water because cranberries float! Are you a whole or jellied cranberry sauce kind of person?
Watch how cranberries grow and are harvested
Recommended book: Time for Cranberries, by Lisl Detlefsen
Classroom Resource: Cranberry Lessons
3. Mashed potatoes
How do potatoes grow? Underground! Potatoes are good for you too! They are high in potassium and are also an excellent source of vitamin C, B6 and iron! There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes, but some of our favorites are Russet, red, yellow and fingerling. Learn about each potato type here.
Watch this video to find out how potatoes grow OR Learn how to make potatoes into batteries for a scientific twist.
Starting in October pumpkins start to make their way onto stoops, into coffee cups and onto plates. This autumn favorite was popular with Native Americans too! Squash was part of the Three Sisters, a combination of corn, beans and squash that were planted together by Native Americans. The stalks of the corn supported the beans, the beans added nitrogen back to the soil and the squash spread across the ground blocking sunlight from weeds.
Learn more about the Three Sisters OR Watch how pumpkins go from field to can.
Recommended book: The Pumpkin Book, by Gail Gibbons
Classroom Resource: Life cycle of a pumpkin lesson plan
The only item that might give turkey a run for its money on the Thanksgiving day table is butter. Butter is a baker’s secret weapon. It is practically magic. It can make foods flaky, crumbly, creamy, or moist and give it that deliciousness that we all love. It finds its way into almost every dish at Thanksgiving. It is in mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and some people even cover their turkeys in butter before roasting them! Where does butter come from? Cows of course!
Watch the journey from milk to butter.
Learn how to make your own butter! Check out this "How to make butter" lesson plan from Utah Ag in the Classroom.
Recommended book: Diary of A Farmer, by Angela Royston
Classroom resource: Dairy Ag Mag
6. Sweet Potatoes
Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0
Sweet potatoes may not be the star of the show, but they are a staple on most Thanksgiving Day tables. Sweet potatoes are grown from “slips”; slips are rooted sprouts from mature potatoes. They are also a great source of nutrients! Sweet potatoes are high in Beta Carotene and vitamins E and C- just to name a few!
You may have heard “sweet potatoes” and “yams” used interchangeably, but they are actually from different botanical families! Sweet potatoes come from the morning glory family and yams come from the lily family.
Learn more about sweet potatoes in this America’s Heartland video!
Photo by fletcherjcm / CC BY-SA 2.0
Did you know most marshmallows contain gelatin? Gelatin, used to make marshmallows, is a protein substance derived from collagen, a natural protein present in the tendons, ligaments, and tissues of mammals. * You might be surprised to learn how many animal byproducts are used. We are really great at efficiently using animal resources!
Want to take the learning further? This Ag in the Classroom lesson explores where in the U.S. Thanksgiving foods come from!
Learn more about other surprising things that come from agriculture: 10 things that didn’t make you think farm until now
Help us thank a farmer or rancher this holiday season! Find out how.