Thanksgiving Fixings May Be Holiday Buzzkill

By Valerie Smock
11/21/2013 10:55:25 AM

Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Those food items are not just tasty, they are also a staple for those Thanksgiving meals. Have you ever wondered what would happen if those yummy fixings went away? If the globe continues to warm, it may mean problems for that wonderful spread.

The "turkey belt" of the United States is in the South, where states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas contribute the bulk of our national annual haul of over a quarter of a billion birds. If you're concered about keeping turkey on your Thanksgiving table into the future, you might turn your attention to the Midwest. Heat and drought in the Midwest can be problematic. In the Corn Belt, the grain supplies that fatten the birds up for market dwindled, prices spiked, and as of fall, turkeys can become more expensive.

To make matters worse, even those creamy mashed potatoes and gravy could be threatened. Rising temperatures across Idaho could cause a drop in spud yields and cost the state millions of dollars in economic loss, according to the American Security Project. Pumpkin pie, a turkey-day tradition may fair a bit better. There hasn't been much correlation between pumpkins and climate change, but pumpkins are sensitive to extreme weather.

As for cranberries, you may have better luck keeping them around. Canned cranberry is probably good for another 100 years. In fact, a jump in the average temperature by just a couple more degrees "could prove beneficial" for a state such as Maine. A cranberry specialist there predicts that a longer growing season can lead to more berries on each plant, and bigger berries, too.