GUEST COMMENTARY: Stable food prices something to be thankful for

Friday, November 19, 2010 | 1:41 p.m. CST

A warm Indian Summer is finally making way for crisp fall days. A true taste of November is here, which means Thanksgiving is upon us.

Thanksgiving always brings back memories from my childhood. Lots of food, no school for a couple of days, and the promise of Christmas only weeks away, added a festive note to the occasion. There was the traditional dinner fare of turkey and all the trimmings, with dessert choices that boggled the mind. Now as an adult, my perspective has transformed into one of purchasing and preparing food, taking a break from my job for a couple of days, and getting started on some serious Christmas shopping and decorating.

Young or old, Thanksgiving is the holiday to focus on the blessings one has enjoyed throughout the year. Family and friends enjoy the opportunity to share both food and fellowship in celebration of the feast of thanksgiving.

A list of blessings, both large and small, could be unending as I think about all the things for which I am thankful. This list includes health, a comfortable home, a fulfilling job, family, friends and freedoms. I am also thankful the election is more robo calls and ads filling the airways and mailbox. I am thankful that the November wind has taken away the many leaves in my yard, saving me from the rake. I am thankful the cool night temperatures stopped the growth of grass, since I refuse to mow after November 1.

As we look at what will appear on the table for this year's Thanksgiving meal, we can all be thankful that grocery prices almost mirror those of last year. The 2009 total was $42.57 compared to 2010 at $42.52 for a savings of $0.05. This meal for 10 includes a 16-pound turkey, stuffing, peas, sweet potatoes, cranberries, carrot and celery sticks, rolls and butter, pumpkin pie with real whipped cream along with coffee and milk as beverages. For $4.25 per person you could have a wonderful meal, and did I mention leftovers which would take the per person cost even lower.

Missouri shoppers from around the state collected food prices in local venues. After tabulating and reviewing the results, many items were the exact cost as last year including the turkey, stuffing mix, sweet potatoes, rolls and milk. Carrots, celery, cranberries and butter were among the items showing slight increase in price. Pumpkin pie mix, pie shells, peas and whipping cream were of lesser cost than last year.

Add living in the Show-Me state to the list of blessings. Compared to the national average of $43.47, Missouri's price average was $0.95 lower.

As a reminder, add the farmers to your list of blessings. Thanks to their efforts throughout the year, we can all enjoy an abundant, safe and affordable food supply every day.

Diane Olson, of Jefferson City, is the director of promotion and education programs for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

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