The weekend before Thanksgiving ó and especially the day before Thanksgiving on Wednesday ó finds shoppers from most American families at the grocery store. Even if they are planning to eat their traditional holiday meal away from home, either with relatives or elsewhere, everyone wants to have some special items for the long weekend to come.

With the rising costs of dairy products and fuel, and with a crunch on space to store frozen meats, the cost of providing this yearís Thanksgiving meal will be up a bit from last year, according to the 22nd annual informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

But the price of basic food items found on the typical Thanksgiving dinner table ó turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and those all-important trimmings ó will still be only $42.26 for enough to serve 10 people. Even though thatís up $4.16 from last yearís $38.10, itís still an incredible bargain for such a feast.

The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $17.63 or roughly $1.10 per pound, reflects an increase of 12 cents per pound, or a total of $1.93 per turkey compared to 2006. This is the largest contributor to the overall increase in the cost of the 2007 Thanksgiving dinner, according to the survey.

The rising costs of energy also have influenced other price increases at the grocery store. Despite that, food costs represent only about 10 percent of the average household budget.

The data used for the survey is generated by 151 independent, volunteer shoppers in 31 states.

As Americans sit down around the table on Thursday, one of the things for which they should remember to be thankful is not just the food, but its availability and cost relative to everything else they need to live. That delicious meal, the greatest feast they will probably enjoy all year, costs just over $4 per person.

If you choose your selections wisely, you might be able to get a small burger, fries and drink at a fast-food restaurant with $4.

We have much to give thanks for, indeed.

Brownwood Bulletin