Economics Stripped: Gobble It Up



Jenn Carey

While for most Americans Thanksgiving means time off from work and time spent with family, the economy is certainly not at rest around the holiday. Before the tur­key, stuffing and pies reach dinner tables across the country, countless production de­cisions are made that determine whether the yearly feast will be bountiful or bereft of good food. Whether making sure that there are Butterballs for one and all or enough alcohol to keep the relatives from killing one another, Thanksgiving heavily relies on supply and demand to the point where lives may depend on it.

Despite the efforts of tofurkey-eating-animal-rights-activists everywhere, the de­mand for and supply of traditional turkey is holding strong. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, approximately 242 million birds have been brought up this year alone, ready to accompany the potatoes and pie. And while Obama may have pardoned a turkey in keeping with tradition, countless others were not spared from the same fate, with the USDA reporting roughly 23,122 turkey slaughters this October alone. For those Americans not lucky enough to receive one of the turkeys given out by Congressman Charlie Rangel (or rather, a turkey from Fairway market that Rangel was “kind” enough to hand out in front of the cameras), buying a bird has become increasingly expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics re­ports that the average price per pound of turkey has been steadily rising, climbing from $1.09 per pound in September 2004 to $1.45 per pound as of September 2009.

However, the retail sector is providing ample opportunity to earn a wage over the holiday season. The Washington Post reported that stores like Kmart and Old Navy remained open this Thanksgiving – providing a quick fix for any Americans un­able to fit into their jeans after a full dinner. Turkeys play a larger role in expanding waistlines than may be immediately apparent. The USDA reports that the average citizen ate about 14 pounds worth of these gobblers over the course of the year 2007. Fortunately, New York State’s laws allow industrious Americans to hunt their own turkeys in both the spring and fall, helping to facilitate this annual consumption. The Department of Environmental Conservation’s website offers prime tips for those hoping to trap their own turkey in the coming season, including “Don’t stalk” and “Let the bird do the walking.” Of course, professional advice aside, Americans should not forget the most obvious tip for a safe and happy holiday season – if you see Dick Cheney, run like hell.