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Talking Turkey: Blame Ethanol For The High Priced Bird

Tuesday, 20 Nov 2007 | 3:45 PM ET
Turkey
Source: foodnetwork.com
Turkey

Turns out your Thanksgiving dinner is going to cost about $5 more this year. One big reason? Ethanol. Here's why. The most expensive part of the dinner is the turkey (though some grocers give it away if you overload on everything else). And 60% of the cost of the turkey is the feed. Most of the feed is corn, and corn prices are through the roof because corn is being diverted to the hot item of the moment: ethanol.

Bill Mattos, who heads California's Poultry Federation says he knows one very large operation which has seen its corn feed bill skyrocket $100 million. That must be some operation! Mattos calls ethanol an "inefficient way to make gasoline." Gee, wonder if he'd feel that way if he was growing corn instead of raising turkeys and chickens.

Still, I wonder what it will be like looking back ten years from now. Did ethanol "take"? Was it a good first step toward weaning ourselves off fossil fuels? Was it a huge scam?

Meantime, out here in turkey country in Chowchilla, California, I really have discovered the ends of the earth. I have also found the place where you can drive just about as fast as you want.

I came here to report live from Mary's Turkeys--in the middle of nowhere, except for the new mosque ten miles down the road. The people here could not be more hospitable, and the turkeys are even friendly (those still here are being saved for Christmas). Stand still long enough and the birds will gather 'round. But don't forget to wear rubber boots...

ONE LAST CALIFORNIA NOTE:
So, California-born Jimmie Johnson wins the Nextel Cup again, beating out California-born Jeff Gordon. I told you people out here drive crazy.

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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