Thanksgiving 2018 Recap

Thanksgiving 2018 is officially in the books, and although nothing turned out quite as we planned, Minnesota Turkey ultimately made a very positive impact in a variety of ways.

Where was the Governor?

For the first time in decades, MTGA did not co-host a Thanksgiving presentation with the Governor of Minnesota. Unfortunately, Governor Mark Dayton was at Mayo Clinic until just before Thanksgiving, recovering from some complications from back surgery. The situation was out of our hands and we’re glad to hear the Governor is doing well.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota Donation

Despite the lack of a press event with the Governor, MTGA continued its proud tradition of donating turkey to our partners at Hunger Solutions Minnesota. (see press release) This donation – amounting to 12,350 pounds and announced on November 21 – is made possible, in part, by sales from our Turkey To Go restaurant at the Minnesota State Fair. Since 2001, MTGA has donated over 286,000 pounds of turkey to food banks and food shelves across the state!


Facebook Live Farm Tour at Zimmermans

Live … from the Zimmerman Turkey Farm

MTRPC partnered with Minnesota Ag in the Classroom to go live on Facebook for a virtual tour of one of John Zimmerman’s turkey barns outside of Northfield, Minn. Originally we were going to travel to a turkey barn in the Melrose area this year, but because of the low pathogenic avian influenza situation in that area, we gave John a call and he graciously agreed to pinch hit. He did an outstanding job, the Facebook Live session was filled with questions from classrooms across the state, and the video has been viewed over 1,700 times so far. Thank you, John and also a big thanks to the crew at Minnesota Ag in the Classroom spearheading this event. and Minnesota Department of Agriculture for handling the technology behind-the-scenes. View the video here.

Agweek interview with Chris Huisinga

AgWeek Talks Turkey with President Huisinga

MTGA President Chris Huisinga and his wife, Joi, were gracious hosts of AgWeek’s general manager, Katie Pinke, and her staff the week prior to Thanksgiving. Katie wrote a great article about the couple and their move from the corporate world back to the family tradition of turkey production. A segment also aired on AgWeek television. AgWeek is owned by Forum Communications, a multimedia news company with locations across ND, SD, MN and WI. The company includes print, online, television, and radio outlets. View Article  |  View Video (story starts at 8:42)

And Speaking of AgWeek ..

When Katie Pinke wrote a piece on about doing away with the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House, staffer Lara Durben just had to respond to give a different viewpoint. “The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation brings our nation’s turkey farmers to the media spotlight every year – that’s a good thing and we’re lucky to have it. Let’s continue to use that time wisely,” she wrote. View article

Sharing the Minnesota Turkey Story

University of Minnesota Extension collaborated with our office to share some fun tidbits about Minnesota’s turkey industry in an article titled, “Six Savory Facts About Minnesota Turkey.” The article included information about raising turkeys in barns, biosecurity, turkey eggs, and some great tips for leftovers. Thank you, Minnesota Extension! View article

Did You Happen to See the Recall?

The Friday before Thanksgiving, Jennie-O Turkey Store recalled 91,000+ pounds of ground turkey due to Salmonella Reading concerns. Minnesota Turkey worked with the National Turkey Federation to track misinformation about the recall on social media and use our digital spaces to remind consumers about safe food handling – at Thanksgiving and all year long.

NTF put out a digital press release on its website. “The turkey industry takes food safety very seriously. In July, as soon as USDA and CDC made the turkey industry aware of the possible link between Salmonella Reading illnesses and raw turkey, the industry leapt into action. More than 20 turkey companies representing virtually all U.S. turkey production formed a task force charged with developing strategies to control this strain. Companies participated regardless of whether they sell raw turkey products or whether Salmonella Reading had ever been found in their turkeys.”

To be clear, the CDC has not recommended that consumers avoid turkey. However, the sheer number of ‘clickbait’ headlines on social media was daunting, to say the least. It seemed most media outlets shared information about the recall with a photo of a whole roasted turkey – NOT the ground turkey about which the recall was based.

Minnesota Turkey responded to as many of those clickbait headlines as we saw. And in one particularly troubling news report from KARE-11, staffer Lara Durben wrote a direct response from Minnesota Turkey on KARE’s Facebook page. That post was shared over 1,800 times and viewed by almost 180,000 people – clearly the most “viral” post Minnesota Turkey has ever created! You can read the response here.

We also put together a special food safety podcast with the help of NTF, who lined up special guest Shelly Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. You can find that podcast (#11 for What the Cluck!) here and on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Food Safety Graphic

Food Safety Message Continues!

Food safety is an important message to send to consumers throughout the year. After all, 22 million turkeys are eaten at Christmas! Just a few simple steps – clean, separate, cook and chill – can help families have a safe and healthy meal when preparing turkey. Minnesota Turkey will continue to tout this message on our social media platforms and utilize a variety of National Turkey Federation resources on this, including informational graphics, fact sheets, and videos.

Whew! What a Thanksgiving season, right? Let us know if you have any questions or would like to follow-up on any information we shared here. You may direct any questions to Lara Durben at or 763/682-2171.