It’s Truly a California Thanksgiving

California Growers and Ranchers Provide Nearly Everything On the Table

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

It’s truly a California Thanksgiving, as most of the products come from the growers and ranchers here.

Turkeys come from several areas of the state, and while California is No. 7 in turkey production, they do supply most of the western United States.

And the famous Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing comes from a California gal, Sophie Cubbison, who as born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. A long interesting story made short: In May of 1920, she graduated from California Polytechnical University with a degree in Home Economics. It was 1948 when she used broken pieces of the popular Melba toast and added seasoning to make stuffing. A factory in Commerce, CA, churns it this time of year.

And farmers in California also produce almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, prunes, figs, dates, apricot, and pomegranates right up the food line.

Celery comes from the Oxnard and Ventura area, and the ingredients for the stuffing mix–carrots, lot of lettuce and fresh spinach–in Salinas now that they have all these greens, already washed and bagged in the produce department. The green beans come from California growers as well. c

You’ve got oranges, kiwi fruit, colorful persimmon fruit, table grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries that have been freshly harvested from many areas of the state. You’ve got sweet potatoes from the Merced area. This is the major season for them. You’ve got all kinds and colors of potatoes and tomatoes and parsley, onions and garlic–all crops grown in California

Practically all the fruits and vegetables and nuts are part of America’s Thanksgiving, and nearly all of it comes from California. There is often a wide array of cheeses and that wonderful whip cream that comes from the California dairy industry—number one in the industry.

And don’t forget about the great variety of California wine grapes that are grown by California growers and then crafted into great California wine.

You’ve you have apples and those small round watermelons that are a great snack or dessert item as part of a fruit salad. And we have poultry, and even California lamb if you want to go that way.

And of course Martinelli Sparkling Apple or Grape cider from Watsonville. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company, which is more than 140 years old and still family-owned and run by the founder’s grandson and a great-grandson.

In fact, it was 1890 when the company was award the first place at the California State Fair.

And by the way, you know that pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? It was invented by public relations genius Leo Pearlstein, who handled promotions for the California Turkey Advisory Board for 25 years. Each Thanksgiving, hundreds of consumers would call to ask how long it takes to cook a turkey in the oven. In the 1960s, Pearlstein and a turkey producer from Turlock were sitting in a room trying to figure out the solution. They looked up and noticed the fire sprinklers in the ceiling.

Sprinkler water comes on when it is hot enough to melt a metal alloy. The same concept is used in the pop-up timer. Many turkey brands have the special pop-up timer included with them today.

With the exception of cranberries, it’s really a California Thanksgiving.

And we are grateful to all the California farmers and ranchers for providing so much for all of us this holiday and throughout the year.

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California Supplies Thanksgiving

California Feeds the Nation on Thanksgiving!

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California ranks #8 in turkey production in the United States (2016), and we supply most of the western states from our poultry farms located in several areas in the state.

The famous Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing or “Dressing” originated from a ç, born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. In short, Cubbison graduated from California Polytechnical University in May 1920 with a degree in Home Economics having paid her way through school with the money she earned feeding the farm workers.

Cubbison created her popular stuffing in 1948 using broken pieces of the popular Melba toast and various seasonings. The factory in Commerce, California churns it out in mass quantities this time of year.

California farmers produce almonds, raisins, walnuts, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, pistachios, and pomegranates, right on up the food line.

These are all celebrated Thanksgiving foods.

Celery from the Oxnard and Ventura area completes the stuffing mix. Nutrient-dense carrots, lettuce and fresh spinach from Salinas now arrive, pre-washed and bagged, in your local produce department. Your Thanksgiving traditional green beans come from California growers.

An ample supply of freshly harvested oranges and kiwi fruit, table grapes, strawberries, and raspberries are shipped from many areas in the state. Seasonal features include sweet potatoes from the Merced, about an hour north of Fresno, plus all kinds and colors of potatoes and tomatoes, parsley, onions, and garlic—all crops are raised in California.

Nearly all the fruits, vegetables and nuts that are part of America’s Thanksgiving are sourced from California.

Don’t forget about the great varieties of wine grapes grown in the No. 1 agricultural state that are deftly crafted into delectable California wines.

Or the thirst-quenching Martinelli sparkling apple or grape cider from Watsonville California, near the Monterey Bay area. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company that is still family-owned after almost 150 years and is managed by the founder’s grandson and great-grandson. Here’s something to discuss at your Thanksgiving meal:  the company won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair in  Sacramento.

How about those heirloom and new apple varieties, plus those small round watermelons that we snack on or toss into a dessert fruit salad, topped with California pomegranate arils?

Of course, we raise poultry, and even California lamb, if you want to go that way. Here is a Did-you-know? challenge for your holiday meal:  What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents? (Answers are below.)

And by the way, you know that food-safety pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? Public relations genius Leo Pearlstein and a turkey producer in Turlock, a small town north of Fresno in Stanislaus County, invented this Thanksgiving fixture.

Back in the 1960s, they were sitting in a room trying to solve the undercooked poultry challenge, when they looked up and noticed ceiling fire sprinklers. The sprinklers sprayed water when the room temperature became hot enough to melt a tiny piece of metal alloy in the mechanism. This innovative team of two applied the same concept to the pop-up timer!

With the exception of cranberries, our national day of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest is really a California Thanksgiving.


Here are some friendly topics for discussion at your Thanksgiving Table:

  • What is the name of the famous Thanksgiving stuffing that originated in California?
  • What beverage company that is still operating won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair?
  • How was the pop-up timer invented and by whom?
  • How does high does California rank in U.S. turkey production?
  • What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents?

In 2010, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey from Modesto, California-based Foster Farms; and alternate bird Cider. 

In 2015, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey and an alternate 43-pound bird named Honest, again from Foster Farms.

The Presidential Turkey flock are Nicholas White turkeys, which originated in California’s Sonoma Valley in 1957. Today, the Nicholas White is the industry standard. (Foster Farms)

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