By Nathan Smith

I love Thanksgiving! Who’s with me? It’s a wonderful time of year for foodies because of the diversity of dishes, the new twists on old recipes and the comfort in familiar tastes.

This time of year across the country, harvests are wrapping up and American farmers and ranchers have been hard at work so we can enjoy high quality and abundant food choices .

Here are some stats on what farmers and ranchers across the nation have been up to this year, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • 248 million turkeys were raised in the United States, up two percent from last year.
  • 750 million pounds were forecasted for U.S. cranberry production.
  • 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were grown in states like North Carolina.
  • 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins sprung up across the country despite tough conditions. Every state normally averages 100 million pounds each year.
  • Most Americans consume 13.3 pounds of turkey each year.

If you went by Adam Sandler’s “Turkey Song” you might think the delicious bird is all Thanksgiving is about but since the days of the pilgrims, the holiday has morphed into something more.

As my own family grows and spreads, Thanksgiving serves as a designated meeting time during a hectic year. It’s a time to slow down, reflect and give thanks for more than just the turkey and football on TV.

For instance, we eat tamales and homemade salsa, ham and “grandma bread” (sourdough gold that is a year-round Smith family staple). While the food is delicious, the holiday is more about reconnecting and rekindling relationships.

Isn’t it funny how food can bring memories to mind?

Earlier this week, a friend was talking about her family’s traditions and mentioned cheesy potatoes. There was nothing special about the dish itself but for the fact that her grandmother makes them every year and that it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.

She pondered for a minute after considering what might happen when her grandmother isn’t there any longer.

“Someone will have to carry on that tradition someday,” she said sadly.

It’s not the dish that will be missed so much as the person who prepared it with that special touch. Recreating the taste will recreate  good memories that often bring comfort.

This Thanksgiving, enjoy the bounty of Texas and give thanks for the farmers and ranchers who got it to your table. Be with those dear to you. Rather than making the holiday about the great food, let it be the catalyst for great memories.

From all of us at Texas Table Top, happy Thanksgiving!