Virginia ranks fifth in the nation for the number of turkeys raised, with 17 million birds produced in 2010. With value added through a wide variety of cuts, parts and so on, the total value of turkey processors' production in 2009 in the state was more than $16 billion. With that value of turkey to farmers and consumers in consideration Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has declared June to be Virginia Turkey Lovers' Month.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notes June is the ideal time to celebrate the delicious taste, versatility, high quality nutrition and cooking ease of this important Virginia product. In addition, VDACS notes the June celebration highlights the turkey's year-round popularity.
A low-fat, high-protein food, turkey is nutritious notes VDACS spokespersons. A 3-ounce serving of roasted skinless turkey breast contains 14.52 grams of protein, 1.41 grams of fat, 3.58 grams of carbohydrates and just 88 calories.
Turkey has long been a holiday favorite but the June celebration highlights the bird's possibilities as an 'anytime' favorite.
That is apt, too, because since 1970 per capita consumption of turkey has increased by 102%, from 8.1 pounds to 16.4 pounds in 2010. More Americans are choosing to consume turkey throughout the year on days that are not just holidays. Although 50% of all turkey consumed in 1970 was during the holidays, today that number is about 31% as more people enjoy it year around.
Like domestic turkey consumption, turkey exports have continued to expand. In 1992, VDACS notes, U.S. turkey producers sent $151 million worth of turkey overseas. In 2010, exports had grown to $464 million. According to the National Turkey Federation, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, Canada and the Dominican Republic are the largest recipients of American turkey.
This year a Virginia turkey farmer is raising the National Thanksgiving Turkey. The turkey will be presented to the President of the United States in November this year. If history is any precedent, that turkey will be pardoned by President Obama and live the rest of its life at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate.