January’s Food Holidays: National Hot Tea Month and More
Welcome to January, everyone! In honor of this glorious first month of the year, the team here at Exhibit Farm wants to alert you to some important days coming up in the weeks ahead—namely, this month’s food holidays.
January’s food holidays are perfect occasions to commemorate the hard work the ag industry puts into producing our favorite treats. So we’re going to do just that. To clarify, though, not all of January’s food holidays will make it into this post. Each month has a food holiday for almost every day of the year. The year even has more than its share of month-long observances in honor of various foods. But we don’t have the room for all 30+ food holidays coming up this month. So we’re just going to share the four that we’re most excited about.
To kick off this party, let’s look at one of the month-long observances dedicated to this first month of the year.
National Hot Tea Month
Likely chosen for this month due to the cold temperatures experienced by many Americans during the winter season, national hot tea month falls every year in January.
Since it ranks among the most popular beverages worldwide, this classy drink certainly deserves its own month. As this article by the Tea Association of the U.S.A. explains, “Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water.” The top two producers of this popular refreshment are China and India. Together, these nations produced almost 3.4 metric tons of tea in 2016 alone.
Unfortunately for proud U.S. tea fanatics, the nation is far below these top producers in worldwide tea production. Best suited to a hot and wet growing season, tea plants don’t grow well in much of the United States. However, according to worldoftea.org, “American grown tea is a warm community and growing industry” with farms in approximately 17 states across the country. States including Hawaii, Florida, South Carolina, Washington, and Oregon encompass regions good for growing tea. Out of all the states, Hawaii is the top producer of American teas.
Even though the coffee cult often eclipses tea popularity in the United States, tea in America has a growing presence that makes it an appropriate nation-wide shindig. The Tea Association estimates that, “[o]n any given day, over 158 million Americans are drinking tea.” That would explain why the United States is among the top three tea importers in the world.
January 11, National Milk Day
Everyone get ready to hug a cow, because this January 11th is national milk day. This holiday is an easy one for Americans to celebrate because they sure do love their dairy. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Americans consumed about 154 pounds of fluid milk per person in the year 2016. If one gallon of milk weighs about 8 pounds, this means that the average American drank somewhere in the ballpark of 19 gallons of milk that year.
The average dairy cow, meanwhile, eats about 100 pounds of food every day. She probably deserves it, though, because she produces approximately 7 gallons of milk daily in return. That means that your average cow produces around 350,000 glasses of milk in her life. She can produce enough milk for one average American’s year of white milk drinks in only three days.
This is all thanks to our beloved American dairy cows, the majority of which are Holsteins. Other popular dairy breeds include Jerseys and Guernseys. Although most of our dairy comes from the Great Lakes region and the west coast, many other states play an important role in the U. S. dairy industry. But California has dominated the dairy industry since the 90s.
January 19, National Popcorn Day
January always seems like a good month to watch a movie, huh? Well, it turns out that this month you’ll have a good excuse to do just that. As long as you pop yourself some good ole popcorn, that is.
January 19th is the day that all true popcorn fans should be looking forward to with anticipation. And, as it turns out, America is a great place to be if you’re one of those fans. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center and hunker.com, most of the world’s popcorn is grown in the United States, with more than 50% of U.S. popcorn growing in Nebraska and Indiana. It’s one of the most popular snacks consumed by Americans.
The very origins of popcorn are tied to America. As this “Popcorn Profile” by Ray Hansen of Iowa State University explains, “Popcorn was produced by early Native Americans,” and they would even use it in “necklaces and headdresses.” That’s one way to bring a new flavor to your outfit (literally). Explorers noticed this interesting snack among the natives, and the European settlers soon adapted it to their own uses. As Hansen writes, the settlers would “[serve] popcorn as a breakfast cereal with milk or cream.”
Popcorn really exploded in America during the Great Depression. During that time, it was one of the cheaper snacks around. It was also a good substitute for more expensive candies during World War II. To this day, popcorn continues to be popular among U. S. snackers, who consume it in homes and movie theaters all across the nation.
If you’re curious to know how popcorn pops, watch this brief video about the physics of popcorn.
January 24, National Peanut Butter Day
For the last of January’s food holidays that we’ll cover in this post, I want to remind you all to save your jelly for the April celebration of the famous PB&J pair. For now, we’re all about the PB, because the 24th of this month is the special time for peanut butter to take the spotlight all by itself.
According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts grow in 13 of the 50 states, mostly in the southeast region of the country. The top six peanut states are Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Georgia is by far the top producer, growing approximately 40% of all U.S. peanuts. As a whole, the United States ranks in the top four peanut producing nations.
Regarding the butter itself, Statista reports that this nutty spread is consumed by over 290 million Americans with most Americans favoring the creamy version over the crunchy kind. In 2015, peanut butter sales in the U.S. alone totaled about 1.82 billion dollars. Wikipedia even claims that the U.S. is the top exporter of peanut butter in the world.
Check out this interesting YouTube video to see how peanut butter producers make the yummy treat.
For the rest of this month’s food holidays, check out this comprehensive list at Foodimentary.com. Have a delicious and food-filled January!