Now that the meal has ended and you've just come out of a food coma, you can thank North Carolina farmers.
North Carolina is the nation’s top producer of sweet potatoes and ranks second for turkey production.
It has maintained its sweet potato ranking since 1971. North Carolinians love their sweet potatoes so much — and are so good at harvesting them — that sweet potatoes are the official state vegetable.
In 2018, North Carolina produced 1.2 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, according to federal data.
That’s actually a five-year low for the state and a significant reduction from the more than 2 billion pounds produced in 2017. Extreme weather from the back-to-back hurricanes was likely the main cause of the depleted harvest.
Still, North Carolina managed to keep its top spot, providing 40% of all sweet potato production in the country in 2018. That brought in more than $230 million in revenue.
Whether you like your sweet potatoes roasted with rosemary or baked with a crispy marshmallow top, the ones you ate were probably harvested in this state.
And the turkey that you carved likely came from North Carolina, too. Even Bread and Butter, the two turkeys President Donald Trump “pardoned” this year in the annual ceremony in Washington, were North Carolina natives.
In 2018, North Carolina produced 32.5 million turkeys. That’s a little more than three turkeys for every North Carolina resident and a total of 1.2 billion pounds.
North Carolina ranked second in turkey production in 2018 behind Minnesota, which produced 42 million turkeys.
North Carolina produces 14% of all the turkeys in the nation, bringing in about $610 million in 2018. That’s down from $994 million in 2017. Lower wholesale prices were likely behind the reduced revenue.
Nine counties in North Carolina each produced more than 1 million turkeys in 2018. Sampson County was the leading producer with 7.7 million and along with Wayne and Union counties produce more than half of all the state’s turkeys.