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Federal Reserve Nudges Americans To Swap Turkey For Soy At Thanksgiving
SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 21: A volunteer prepares a box of turkeys to be given out during the 2006 holiday turkey distribution at the San Francisco Food Bank November 21, 2006 in San Francisco, California. Despite donations being down at most food banks across the country, the San Francisco Food Bank will distribute over 1,500 turkeys to churches and community centers over the holiday season.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

In a bizarre tweet, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggested that soy is a more economically efficient Thanksgiving meal option than turkey.

“A Thanksgiving dinner serving of poultry costs $1.42,” said a tweet discussing a Federal Reserve Economic Data blog post. “A soybean-based dinner serving with the same amount of calories costs 66 cents and provides almost twice as much protein.”

The blog post likewise emphasizes the nutritional benefits of soy:

Now for the main course: turkey (i.e., poultry) or tofurkey (i.e., soybeans)? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, roasted turkey has almost 3 times the caloric value and 1.5 times the protein value of an equivalent serving of fried tofu by weight. Between 1990 and the time of this writing, the average global price of poultry has been 6 times higher than the price of soybeans.

As of the third quarter of 2021, a hearty Thanksgiving dinner serving of turkey costs $1.42. A tofurkey (soybean) dinner serving with the same amount of calories costs $0.66 and provides almost twice as much protein. Keep in mind that this plant-based meal would be almost 3 times larger by weight than the poultry-based meal and may either keep you at the dinner table longer or provide you with more leftovers. Of course, our calculations here don’t include the time value, energy costs, and additional ingredients required to cook the meals.

Conservatives on social media were not enthused by the Fed’s tweet.

“And for Christmas you can have earth worms and cockroaches,” said Republican United States Senate candidate J.D. Vance. 

“Next year it’ll be bugs,” concurred commentator Mike Cernovich.

“Quantitative easing and soy for Thanksgiving,” added Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). “Let’s save America from these people.”

The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate of maximum employment and stable price levels. After nearly two years of aggressive monetary stimulus, the central bank announced plans to roll back its monthly asset purchases by $15 billion in both November and December while keeping near-zero interest rates.

Since January, however, the inflation rate has climbed from 1.4% to 6.2% — significantly increasing food costs ahead of Thanksgiving.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a lobbying group representing the American agriculture industry, the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for ten people will be $53.31 in 2021 — representing a 14% price hike in a single year. The price of turkey has increased by 24%.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” AFBF senior economist Veronica Nigh explained. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat.”

“The trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.”

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