Thanks to Foreign Agricultural Service employees serving at USDA’s 98 international posts, American Thanksgiving traditions – and food – are being enjoyed around the world this November.
This is certainly the case in Taiwan, where the Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Taipei teamed with China TV to highlight the holiday on an episode of the popular TV show “King of the Happy Life” this week.
Valerie Brown from ATO Taipei was joined by Daisy Hong, who represents the grower-owned cooperative Ocean Spray, and chef C.K. Chen from Taipei’s Sherwood Hotel. In addition to Thanksgiving staples like turkey and pumpkin pie, they featured new recipes, including stuffing and hot cranberry-apple cider made with Ocean Spray products.
After taping the show, Chen began taking orders for traditional American Thanksgiving baskets, which the Sherwood Hotel sells every year. Not only do these baskets feature traditional American dishes, many of the ingredients are exported by the United States, including turkey, cranberries, broccoli, potatoes, beets, lettuce and California wine.
Following the Thanksgiving episode of “King of the Happy Life” last year, Chen was so overwhelmed with orders that he had to limit the number of baskets available this year.
The popularity of these Thanksgiving baskets is reflective of increased demand for U.S. food and agriculture around the world. Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that U.S. agricultural exports reached a record $137.4 billion in fiscal year 2011, which exceeds the previous record by $22.5 billion. The agricultural trade surplus soared to a record $42.7 billion in FY2011.
This rise in exports is good news for all Americans, especially considering every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports supports 8,400 American jobs. Last year alone, agricultural exports helped support 1.15 million jobs. And that gives us all a reason to be thankful.