(Editor’s Note: This was the state of the holiday just one year pre-COVID, for those with nostalgia for the way ot was before social distancing and over 770,000 Americans lost their lives…)
California supplies the nation’s Thanksgiving tables
California ranked #8 in turkey production in the United States (2016), and supplied most of the western states from our poultry farms located in several areas in the state.
The famous Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing or “Dressing” originated from a ç, born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. In short, Cubbison graduated from California Polytechnical University in May 1920 with a degree in Home Economics having paid her way through school with the money she earned feeding the farm workers.
Cubbison created her popular stuffing in 1948 using broken pieces of the popular Melba toast and various seasonings. The factory in Commerce, California churns it out in mass quantities this time of year.
California farmers produce almonds, raisins, walnuts, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, pistachios, and pomegranates, right on up the food line.
These are all celebrated Thanksgiving foods.
Celery from the Oxnard and Ventura area completes the stuffing mix. Nutrient-dense carrots, lettuce and fresh spinach from Salinas now arrive, pre-washed and bagged, in your local produce department. Your Thanksgiving traditional green beans come from California growers.
An ample supply of freshly harvested oranges and kiwi fruit, table grapes, strawberries, and raspberries are shipped from many areas in the state. Seasonal features include sweet potatoes from the Merced, about an hour north of Fresno, plus all kinds and colors of potatoes and tomatoes, parsley, onions, and garlic—all crops are raised in California.
Nearly all the fruits, vegetables and nuts that are part of America’s Thanksgiving are sourced from California.
Don’t forget about the great varieties of wine grapes grown in the No. 1 agricultural state that are deftly crafted into delectable California wines.
Or the thirst-quenching Martinelli sparkling apple or grape cider from Watsonville California, near the Monterey Bay area. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company that is still family-owned after almost 150 years and is managed by the founder’s grandson and great-grandson. Here’s something to discuss at your Thanksgiving meal: the company won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair in Sacramento.
How about those heirloom and new apple varieties, plus those small round watermelons that we snack on or toss into a dessert fruit salad, topped with California pomegranate arils?
Of course, we raise poultry, and even California lamb, if you want to go that way. Here is a Did-you-know? challenge for your holiday meal: What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents? (Answers are below.)
And by the way, you know that food-safety pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? Public relations genius Leo Pearlstein and a turkey producer in Turlock, a small town north of Fresno in Stanislaus County, invented this Thanksgiving fixture.
Back in the 1960s, they were sitting in a room trying to solve the undercooked poultry challenge, when they looked up and noticed ceiling fire sprinklers. The sprinklers sprayed water when the room temperature became hot enough to melt a tiny piece of metal alloy in the mechanism. This innovative team of two applied the same concept to the pop-up timer!
With the exception of cranberries, our national day of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest is really a California Thanksgiving.
Here are some friendly topics for discussion at your Thanksgiving Table:
- What is the name of the famous Thanksgiving stuffing that originated in California?
- What beverage company that is still operating won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair?
- How was the pop-up timer invented and by whom?
- How does high does California rank in U.S. turkey production?
- What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents?
In 2010, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey from Modesto, California-based Foster Farms; and alternate bird Cider.
In 2015, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey and an alternate 43-pound bird named Honest, again from Foster Farms.
The Presidential Turkey flock are Nicholas White turkeys, which originated in California’s Sonoma Valley in 1957. Today, the Nicholas White is the industry standard. (Foster Farms)
Patrick Cavanaugh is farm news director for California Ag Today, the largest ag-focused radio network covering California ag news now including an enhanced website, social media strategy and email marketing.