Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Feast
From California’s Farms to Your Table
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Turkeys come from several areas of the state, and while California is ranked No. 7 in turkey production, we do supply most of the western United States.
The famous Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing comes from Sophie Cubbison, a California entrepreneur who was born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. A longer fascinating story made short: In May 1920, she graduated from California Polytechnical University with a degree in Home Economics. In 1948, she added seasoning to broken pieces of the popular Melba toast to make stuffing. A factory in Commerce, California churns it out this time of year.
Farmers and farmworkers in California produce almonds, raisins, walnuts, prunes, pistachios, figs and dates, apricots, pumpkins, pecans and pomegranates. . . right on up the food line.
These are all part of the American Thanksgiving feast.
Celery from the Oxnard and Ventura area, and the rest of the ingredients for the stuffing mix, plus carrots, lots of crisp lettuce and fresh spinach from Salinas — all these greens waiting for you, already washed and bagged in the produce department. The green beans in your casserole come from California growers.
You’ve got oranges and kiwi fruit, table grapes, strawberries, raspberries freshly harvested from the Salinas and the San Joaquin Valleys. You’ve got sweet potatoes from Merced County — this is their pinnacle season. You’ve got all kinds, colors and sizes of potatoes and tomatoes, plus parsley, onions and garlic. . . all grown in California.
Practically all the fruits, vegetables and nuts make America’s Thanksgiving celebrations festive, and nearly all of them come from California.
And don’t forget about the great variety of California winegrapes cultivated by California growers and then crafted with great care into great California vintage.
Wait! We grow firm, juicy apples and those small round watermelons that are a great snack or accent to a flavorful dessert fruit salad. And besides poultry, we even have California lamb, beef, rice or pasta—if you want to go that way.
Of course, you’ve got Martinelli’s sparkling apple or grape cider from Watsonville, near the Monterey Bay area. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company, which is still family-owned and is run by the founder’s grandson and great-grandson.
At more than 140 years old, Martinelli’s is merely one century younger than our nation. In fact, the company received a first place award at the California State Fair in 1890.
By the way, do you know that little pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? Food public relations genius Leo Pearlstein¹, along with a turkey producer from Turlock, invented that gizmo. Pearlstein, who handled the promotions for the California Turkey Advisory Board, was contemplating the enduring Thanksgiving conundrum—how long to cook the turkey and how to figure out when it is done?
Pearlstein said he and the turkey rancher were sitting in Pearlstein’s test kitchen mulling over ways consumers could determine when the turkey was done. They noticed the fire sprinkler system overhead. When the kitchen gets too hot, the fire sprinkler turns on. A metal alloy in the sprinkler is activated or melted when subjected to the high temperature of a fire in the room (185 degrees Fahrenheit). They applied that concept to the pop-up timer.
Officially, the National Turkey Federation advises consumers also use a conventional meat thermometer to verify that the cooked turkey’s internal temperature reaches:
165 degrees F to 170 degrees F in the breast or
175 degrees F to 180 degrees F in the thigh and
165 degrees F in the center of the stuffing.
Except for cranberries, it is really a California Thanksgiving.
¹Leo Pearlstein is founder and president of Lee & Associates, Inc., a full-service public relations and advertising firm, which he opened in 1950. According to the company website, he currently runs the company with his partners, two of his sons, Howard and Frank Pearlstein. He is also founder and director of Western Research Kitchens, the food and beverage division of his agency. He is considered a pioneer food consultant and his agency was recently named as one of the top agencies in the country that specializes in food and beverage clients.
For more food safety guidelines, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provides this portal.