The Top Thanksgiving Food Grown in Every State
Check out the top Thanksgiving foods grown, raised and harvested by farmers from every state.
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Photo credit: Butch Dill/Farm & Ranch Living
If you’re snacking on peanut brittle this Thanksgiving, there’s a fairly good chance those peanuts were grown in Alabama. Farmers in the state harvested over 550 million pounds of peanuts in 2018. At Miller Farms in Boaz, Alabama, sixth-generation farmer Lance Miller and his wife, Stephanie, raise 110 acres of peanuts each year. Break out of the shell with these amazing peanut recipes.
Potatoes have grown in Alaska for centuries and are among the most valuable crops raised on the state’s farms. The annual fall harvest at the Alaska Plant Materials Center near Palmer is really incredible, with 240 varieties of potatoes. These recipes take mashed potatoes to a whole new level.
If you’re serving a green salad on your Thanksgiving table, the lettuce likely grew on an Arizona farm. According to the University of Arizona, the state is the second highest producer of lettuce in America. Iceberg and Romaine are the two most popular varieties. Here’s how to choose the best lettuce for your salad.
According to the USDA, Arkansas ranks third in the nation for the number of commercial turkeys raised. Only Minnesota and North Carolina farms raise more turkeys. Around 46 million turkeys are served on Thanksgiving each year. Just don’t make these common mistakes when cooking your turkey.
California: Brussels sprouts
Blessed with sunny weather, California farmers grow many delicious crops, from almonds to avocados. And the Golden State is also the top producer of Brussels sprouts. Counties along the Pacific coast with cooler temperatures and lingering fog provide the ideal growing conditions. It’s OK if you’re not in love with the tiny veggies yet—these Brussels sprouts recipes will change your mind.
Colorado farmers have a proud legacy of wheat production. More than two million acres of wheat are planted in Colorado each year. Wheat is produced in all regions of the state and in more than 40 of the 64 counties. Stock up on flour for these fall desserts you probably haven’t made yet, but definitely should.
Connecticut: Maple Syrup
Sugar houses and maple trees dot the countryside in Connecticut. Maple syrup season runs from early February through late March, as the days gradually warm enough to let the tree sap flow. If you’re in the state, check out Barberry Hill Farm where Kingsley and Kelly Goddard produce their own honey and maple syrup—plus, they raise heirloom vegetables, cutting flowers, sheep, ducks and more. These maple desserts will hit the sweet spot.
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Delaware: Sweet Corn
Sweet corn, the kind that you shuck, boil or roast, and slather in butter, is grown on farms throughout rural Delaware. In 2018, 11,000 acres of sweet corn were harvested in the state. The crop is picked fresh in summer, but corn freezes well to enjoy all year long. Learn how to preserve corn with our recipe for Freezer Sweet Corn.
If you’re considering a citrus glaze to your turkey this year, thank Florida farmers. Brothers Ed and Ted White operate Red Hill Groves, where you can find some of Florida’s sweetest fruits. They have three citrus groves and grow navel oranges, honeybell tangelos, grapefruit, Valencia oranges, and more. This is the secret to choosing juicy, ripe oranges.
Jaemor Farms/Farm & Ranch Living
Georgia: Green Beans
On 500 acres of farmland in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Jimmy Echols and his family grow a variety of produce, including green beans, at Jaemor Farms. White half-runners are the most popular green bean, according to Jaemor’s website. Marketing coordinator Caroline Lewallen says customers buy them by the bushel. How to pick green beans that are perfectly fresh.
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Put on a pot of Kona coffee to go with that second slice of pie. Three generations of Suzanne Shriner’s family operate Lions Gate Farms on the big island of Hawaii. Her parents, Diane and Bill, own the original farm with five acres and heirloom trees. “Our mild weather and rich volcanic soil give Kona coffee its distinctive mellow flavor with sweet highlights,” Suzanne says. Check out the best harvest festival in every state.
Idaho is still the top potato producer in America. In fact, this state provides about one-third of America’s total potato crop. Cindy Miller and her husband, Lee, farm 1,300 acres in St. Anthony, Idaho. They grow potatoes, wheat, alfalfa and corn. Try these flavorful ways to boost your baked potatoes.
Someone should tell Linus that The Great Pumpkin probably lives in Illinois. This is because, according to the University of Illinois Extension, farmers grow more ornamental and canning-type pumpkins there than any other state. Around 90 to 95 percent of the pumpkins that go into pie filling are grown in Illinois. Learn how to make a quick and easy pumpkin soup.
According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Indiana ranks fourth in the nation in turkey production. Additionally, the state is first in the nation for duck production, if you’re thinking of serving something different at Thanksgiving this year. These easy fixes will fix common Thanksgiving glitches.
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No state in America grows more corn than Iowa. And our favorite local farmer Mark Mueller would know. Mueller raises corn for grain and animal feed, as well as alfalfa hay and soybeans. He is the fourth generation of Muellers to farm his family’s land in northeastern Iowa. Learn the secrets that farmers market vendors wish you knew.
Calling all bread lovers. If you’re looking for amber waves of grain head to Kansas, the nation’s top wheat producer. Maurice Heiman farms land in northeast Kansas, less than a mile south of Baileyville. On the farm’s combined 320 acres, he grows wheat, corn, soybeans and hay. Celebrate wheat with our favorite recipe for Fluffy Dinner Rolls.
Corn is a top Kentucky crop. While about half of Kentucky’s corn is fed to livestock, 15 to 20 million bushels are used by the bourbon and spirits industry, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association. Here are all the types of whiskey you need to know.
In Louisiana, sweet potatoes are known as yams. According to the Louisiana State University Ag Center, the state produces over 20 percent of America’s total crop of sweet potatoes on around 15,000 acres. We’re crazy about these fall vegetable recipes.
The potato is northern Maine’s primary agricultural product. This New England state ranks as one of the country’s top 10 for potato production. Maine farmers planted nearly 50,000 acres of potatoes in 2018. Here are a few healthy ways to get your potato fix.
Maryland: Sweet Corn
In Maryland, crab feasts include freshly picked sweet corn. The state’s farms harvested over 8,000 acres of the beloved vegetable in 2018. Marylanders Allen and Anna Mae Strite of Clearspring have lived on their Cumberland Valley farm for over 30 years. They host an annual sweet corn day with four generations. Try four simple ways to cook sweet corn.
Americans ate 400 million pounds of cranberries last year, and 20 percent of those were served the week of Thanksgiving. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst says cranberry farming began on Cape Cod during the mid-1800s. The state ranks second in the nation in cranberry production. These cranberry desserts are worth puckering up for.
Taste of Home
Head to Michigan’s orchards if you’re craving cherry pie. Over 26,000 acres of cherries were harvested in 2018. Patrick and Sara McGuire raise cherries and apples on 1,000 acres in Ellsworth, Michigan. They also run a market, bakery, gift shop, winery and cidery. Next: Learn how to make our recipe for Juicy Cherry Pie.
Minnesota is tops for turkey. The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association says the state is No. 1 for turkey production and processing, with 600 turkey farms raising approximately 42 million to 45 million turkeys annually. Minnesota is also home to the world’s largest turkey hatchery, as well as the second-largest turkey processing company in the U.S. Here are the best roasting pans for your Turkey day feast
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Mississippi: Sweet Potatoes
Farmland in Mississippi is ideal for growing sweet potatoes. Nearly 40 years ago, in 1981, Joe and Melissa Edmondson of Topashaw Farms decided to focus their energies on this crop, which has deep roots in the South and an enduring presence on holiday menus. “For Thanksgiving, you have to have sweet potatoes on the table. Sweet potato pie, sweet potato casserole,” Melissa says. Here are even more sweet potato dishes you should add to your holiday menu.
Endless acres of cornfields stretch as far as the eye can see in rural Missouri. For Crystal Burch and her husband, Jered, autumn brings soybean and corn harvests on Kennedy-Burch Farms. While mostly used for animal feed and ethanol, dried field corn (also known as masa) can be ground for grits, cornbread mixes, tortilla chips and taco shells. Learn how to make corn tortillas.
According to Montana State University Extension, nearly 6 million acres of wheat are harvested in Big Sky Country annually with a market value of over $1 billion. Paul and Bobbi Schroder live on Schroder Ranch near Harlem in northern Montana. They raise cattle and grow wheat and barley on their acreage. Check out our best whole-grain dinner ideas.
Corn is the state’s most widely grown crop, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. And Nebraska is the third-largest corn-producing state in the nation, behind Iowa and Illinois, with 23,000 corn farmers. It’s a good thing the University of Nebraska’s mascot is the Cornhuskers! Is cornstarch gluten-free?
Despite Nevada’s arid climate, crops do grow where land can be irrigated. The Nevada Department of Agriculture says alfalfa hay is the leading cash crop of the state. Additional crops include wheat, potatoes, barley, corn, oats, onions, garlic and honey. In 2018, 23,000 acres of wheat were planted in Nevada. Learn how to bake whole wheat bread.
New Hampshire: Apples
Apples are the key fruit crop in New Hampshire. In 2012, the state’s farmers harvested more than 24.5 million pounds of apples. That’s more than $6 million worth of apples to bake into pies, drizzle with caramel or press into cider. Check out the fall beverage you should try based on your zodiac sign.
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New Jersey: Turkey
Farmers in the Garden State produce a lot of blueberries, tomatoes, peaches and peppers. But you’ll also find farmers raising poultry. DiPaola Turkey Farms, founded in 1948, traces its roots to the Italian American neighborhood, where Art DiPaola Sr. grew up and decided to raise a few birds. Art Jr. and his adult children, Kristin and Matt, manage the farm now. They sell turkeys and turkey products at a store in Hamilton, New Jersey, and markets throughout the New York City region. Psst! Here are the best secrets to cooking a flavorful turkey.
New Mexico: Pecans
Shahid Mustafa began farming in the Mesilla Valley of southern New Mexico in January 2016. He raises lots of organic vegetables, and his neighbor has a pecan orchard. Pecans are the No. 1 commercial food crop grown in the state. The harvest kicks off in November, just in time for Thanksgiving. These decadent desserts will please all pecan pie lovers.
New York: Green beans
Green beans are an important crop in New York. The state is in the top five for processing and fresh market green beans, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Check out these amazing vegetarian side dishes.
North Carolina: Sweet potatoes
The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission says the Tar Heel State ranks as the No. 1 sweet potato producer in the U.S. The hot, humid climate and rich, fertile soil are ideal for cultivating sweet potatoes, averaging nearly 60 percent of the country’s supply. According to the USDA, North Carolina harvested nearly 80,000 acres of the tasty taters in 2018. Don’t miss these mistakes you might be making with sweet potatoes.
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North Dakota: Wheat
According to the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the state’s farmers plant 7.5 million acres of wheat. North Dakota and Kansas are the two top states for wheat production. Wanda Burrer and her husband Dennis live in Wing, where they grow wheat, durum, oats, barley, sunflowers, flax and soybeans. This is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain bread.
Ohio ranks in the top five states for pumpkin production, with 4,000 acres planted in 2018 according to the USDA. That’s a lot of jack-o’-lanterns. Sarah Ring lives on Shiloh Acres Dairy in Conneaut, Ohio. She grows four different types of pumpkins, both orange and white ones, to give her customers a variety. What you should know before you go pumpkin picking.
Pecan trees are native to southern states, including Oklahoma. The sunny, warm climate and long growing season provide ideal conditions for these tasty nuts. As a result, the state harvested 90,000 acres of pecans in 2018. Skip the classics this year, and try this recipe for Caramel-Pecan Cheesecake Pie.
Turkish farmers typically account for 70 to 80 percent of hazelnut production. But Oregon has grown to become the world’s third-largest producer. More than 50 years ago, Ron Hathaway’s father, Roy, planted his first hazelnut orchard in Corvallis. Now Ron and his son Mike manage several hazelnut orchards. You have to try these fabulous hazelnut recipes.
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Apple trees grow in orchards across the Pennsylvania countryside. Rachelle Emmett and her husband, Joe, farm at Emmett’s Orchard in Grove City, Pennsylvania. They run a cider mill and country shop. Additionally, they make about 1,000 apple pies and a couple thousand apple turnovers in September and October. Bookmark this guide to common types of apples and how to use them.
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Rhode Island: Potatoes
American’s smallest state harvested 600 acres of potatoes in 2015. Rhode Island is also the birthplace of Mr. Potato Head, produced by Pawtucket-based toymaker Hasbro Inc. in 1952. Our best quick potato recipes are ready in 30 minutes.
South Carolina: Peaches
Neighboring state Georgia is renowned for its peaches, but farmers in South Carolina actually grow more of the fruit each season, according to USDA data. And peaches are the official fruit of the Palmetto State. While peaches ripen in summer, you can enjoy canned fruit in desserts year-round with these canning recipes.
South Dakota: Corn
Corn is big business in South Dakota. Farmers planted over 5 million acres of field corn in 2018 and harvested 777 million bushels. Roughly half of that becomes ethanol, and one-fifth is used to feed livestock, according to the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. These sweet and savory cornbread recipes will melt in your mouth.
Tennessee: Green Beans
According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, snap bean production on Tennessee farms varies from 6,000 to 9,000 acres. The crop contributes $7 to $9 million to the state’s economy each year. About 45 percent of Tennessee beans are for processing (canned and frozen) and 55 percent fresh market. Don’t forget to make green bean casserole for Thanksgiving.
Shawn Oliver/Farm & Ranch Living
The Texas climate helps pecan trees thrive. Oliver Pecan Co. plants, harvests and sells pecans from more than 30,000 trees in orchards scattered across three Texas counties. President Shawn Oliver says the holidays are their busiest time of year. Between 500 and 800 boxes of candies and other pecan products ship daily across the United States. Check out our top pecan pie recipes.
The cherry is Utah’s state fruit. Both sweet and sour (tart or pie) cherries grow there. Utah is the second largest tart cherry producing state, behind Michigan, and fifth in the nation in the production of sweet cherries. In fact, no other state ranks in the top five in both categories. Discover delightful facts about cherries.
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Vermont: Maple Syrup
There’s a reason Vermont is so beautiful in fall—all those maple trees! Betty Lambert of Isham Family Farm in Williston, says, “My father and mother, Paul and Louise Silloway, started a dairy farm and maple sugar operation on this land in the early 1940s. We use syrup for pancakes and waffles, of course. But we also use syrup in much of our baking.” Do you know the difference between pancake syrup and pure maple syrup?
According to the Virginia Poultry Federation, the state ranked sixth in 2018 for turkey production. Patti Lou and Bill Riker operate Tall Cotton Farm. They have been raising turkeys since 2008. “We now keep a laying flock and buy eggs from a hatchery,” Patti Lou says. Get tips for buying the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving.
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The apple is Washington’s official state fruit. According to Washington State University, farms in Washington produce 58 percent of the apples grown in the United States. The two top varieties are red delicious and Gala. Try these comforting apple slow cooker recipes this year.
Taste of Home
West Virginia: Chicken
While most folks prefer turkey, roasted chicken, chicken casserole and buffalo chicken dip appear at many Thanksgiving feasts. West Virginia is the largest producer of broiler chickens in the country. The state also has one of the highest concentrations of family-owned farms in the country.
Central and northern Wisconsin is cranberry country. The state is America’s top producer of cranberries. Flat wetlands and acidic soils create ideal growing conditions. If you’re in the area, Wetherby Cranberry Co. in Warrens has been in business for more than 115 years. Wetherby sells fresh fruit direct to customers and to grocery stores throughout the Midwest. Cranberries are one of the superfoods you should eat each fall.
If you drink a beer while watching football on Thanksgiving, think about Wyoming farmers. Over 71,000 acres of barley were planted in the state in 2018. But it’s not all used for beer—malted barley may be found in bread, pizza crust, breakfast cereal, cookies and more. And barley is a great grain for hearty fall meals. Warm-up with comforting barley soup recipes.