Thursday feast truly something to be thankful for

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's tough to be optimistic when you're unemployed and things aren't going your way.

But there are plenty of things to be thankful about this Thanksgiving, the bountiful supply of food chief among them.

Each year, the American Farm Bureau sends more than 200 volunteers out to record prices at their local grocery stores between Oct. 21 and Nov. 9.

The result? The average 2009, home-prepared Thanksgiving dinner for 10 costs $42.91 on average -- $1.70 or 4 percent less than last year.

And, for the first time, the Nebraska Farm Bureau has determined that the average cost of the feast in Nebraska, based on data from 17 members who participated in the national survey, will be $42.05, 86 cents less than the national average or about 2 percent less than last year, according to Erma McGill of Waverly, who chairs the Nebraska Farm Bureau's Ag Promotion Committee.

And, it's no low-calorie virtual snack the organization plans. The shopping list includes 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, all in quantities sufficient to serve 10 people. A national average cost for miscellaneous ingredients needed to prepare the meal also is included in calculating the total cost.

The 16-pound turkey accounts for the largest portion of the meal, which averaged $1.16 nationally and $1.07 in Nebraska. A gallon of whole milk was the second most-expensive item at $2.86 nationally and $3.12 in Nebraska.

Ironically, consumers are benefitting from significantly lower energy prices and other effects of the economic slowdown.

As Mrs. McGill, a retired farmer, points out, a festive meal for $4.50 -- less than you spend for an everyday meal at the drive-through -- is a real bargain.

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