Give thanks for day of feasting that is less costly to pull off

Families struggling with the economy can take a little comfort this week: The cost of a typical Thanksgiving dinner has dropped.

A feast for 10 can be had for $42.91, down 4 percent from last year, according to the 24th annual survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"Consumers are benefiting at the grocery store from significantly lower energy prices and the effects of the economic slowdown," said Jim Sartwelle, an economist for the group.

It dispatched more than 200 volunteers to check on prices in 35 states. Their findings:

- Turkey: An $18.65 average price for a 16-pound bird, compared with $19.09 last year

- Milk: $2.86 for a gallon of whole milk, down from $3.78

- Cream: $1.55 for half a pint, down from $1.70

- Rolls: $2.08 for a dozen, down from $2.20

- Relish tray: 72 cents for a pound of carrots and celery, down from 82 cents

- Fresh cranberries: $2.41 for 12 ounces, down from $2.46

- Pumpkin pie mix: $2.45 for 30 ounces, up from $2.34

- Pie shells: $2.34 for two, up from $2.26

- Stuffing mix: $2.65 for 14 ounces, up from $2.57

- Sweet potatoes: $3.12 for 3 pounds, no change

- Green peas: $1.58 for a pound, no change

- Miscellaneous ingredients: $2.50, down from $2.69

This is not entirely good news for the Northern San Joaquin Valley. It is a major producer of milk, but dairy farmers have struggled all year with low prices for their raw product.

The north valley also is a big turkey producer, including a Foster Farms plant in Turlock.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star