From wrapping paper to candy canes to the gas in your car, agriculture plays a key role in many of your favorite holiday traditions.
Corn has more in common with Christmas than you might think – more than 90 million acres across the country are used for the production of the stuff! When the tradition of decorating Christmas trees first became popular, many families across the U.S. would string popcorn into a garland do adorn the tree. Corn can also be processed into a variety of foods and industrial products, including sweeteners, beverages and industrial alcohol and fuel ethanol. In fact, nearly 40% of corn produced in the U.S. is used in fuel ethanol, that allows you to travel far and wide to visit friends and family during the holiday season.
Of course tree production plays a role in the holidays when Christmas trees are the star of the show! Trees are also key to the creation of wrapping paper for gifts, too. Each year, Americans spend nearly $7 billion on wrapping paper.
See Also: Get Real: 5 Reasons to Buy a Real Christmas Tree this Year
You can thank cotton farmers for that ugly sweater from your well-meaning great aunt. Cotton is produced in 17 states nationwide and is considered to be the single most important textile fiber in the world. Everything from the clothes we wear to the stockings at the mantle contain cotton. Texas consistently produces the most cotton each year, followed by Georgia and Mississippi.
SEE MORE: Cotton Conservation Kings
4. Maple Products
Ask Buddy the Elf, and he’ll tell you that elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. It’s no wonder that maple products made our Christmas list. It takes roughly 40 gallons of tree sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. Maple trees must be cared for over many years because they aren’t ready to be tapped until they are 40 years old!
SEE MORE: Ohio Maple Syrup on Tap
Whether your table features bacon at breakfast, holiday ham or an old-fashioned crown roast of pork, pig farmers across the country are to credit with the delicious delicacies throughout the festive season. Pork is the most consumed meat in the world, and the U.S. is the third-largest producer and consumer of pork.
See Also: Raising Pigs with a Purpose
The typical dairy cow produces about 6.3 gallons of milk each day, which results in about 350,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime. That is a lot of dairy that can be used to make eggnog, baked custard and other holiday favorites. Plus, Santa is expected to drink nearly 137 million gallons of dairy on Christmas Eve when delivering presents across the world. That is a LOT of dairy used during the holiday season.
Peppermint flavoring is one of the key components to many holiday flavors, including candy canes. Oregon is the largest producer of mint nationwide and produces nearly $41 million dollars worth of the herb annually. Mint is often used for flavoring in candy, toothpaste, and drinks. So next time you drink a mojito or chew some gum, it’s probably been flavored with mint produced here at home.
Each year, U.S. farmers produce nearly 26 million pounds of wool. Each sheep produces nearly 7.2 pounds of wool that then is made into a variety of products, including scarves, socks and mittens to keep you warm.
SEE MORE: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Wool