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Traditional Thanksgiving Meal, With Modern Shortcuts

I'm Alex Villarreal with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from | Thanksgiving Day is America's version of a harvest festival. The holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Millions of Americans joined family and friends to give thanks and eat a meal with a history that is centuries old. Early European settlers in North America held other ceremonies where they gave thanks. But what Americans often consider the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony. Today we call it Massachusetts. Those settlers are known as the Pilgrims. They held a three-day celebration in the fall of sixteen twenty-one. They celebrated the harvest with members of a local Indian tribe. The best known food that Americans traditionally eat on Thanksgiving is turkey. The nation's turkey producers are expected to raise two hundred forty-two million birds this year. The government says that is two percent fewer than last year. Last year's turkey production had a value of about three and a half billion dollars.Thanksgiving turkeys are traditionally served with a bread mixture that some Americans call stuffing. Others call it dressing. Side dishes include cranberries, sweet potatoes and green beans or other vegetables. The meal traditionally ends with a dessert of pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Some Thanksgiving foods have changed over time. For example, most turkeys these days are bred with larger breasts to provide more white meat. Corn -- known in much of the world as maize -- has also changed. It tastes much sweeter than the starchier corn of the past. The way Americans prepare for Thanksgiving has also changed. Economist John Anderson of the American Farm Bureau Federation says some people look for ways to save time. He says shortcuts like buying prepared foods for the holiday are part of a bigger trend in America. Some people might not have the time or the desire to prepare a big meal, or the space for a lot of guests. Whatever the reason, John Anderson notes that more people go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner than in the past. Aid groups and religious organizations were also busy serving Thanksgiving meals to the needy. The weak economy has increased the number of Americans receiving government assistance to buy food. For VOA Special English I'm Alex Villarreal. Our programs are online with transcripts and MP3 files at And you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at VOA Learning English. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 23Nov2010)
Length: 03:58


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