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By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

When we go to the grocery store to shop for Thanksgiving, there are often products from all over the country and the world to pick from. However, Idahoans grow or raise a multitude of products that make a perfect and authentic Thanksgiving dinner. An Idaho Thanksgiving table is a great backdrop to celebrate our American tradition of giving thanks for our incredible bounty, be it food, family, community or our freedom. The first Thanksgiving meal didnâ??t include a turkey, but it did include venison, fish and wild birdsâ??all plentiful in Idaho. And if turkey or wild game isnâ??t your preference, why not try a savory Idaho beef roast? Thanksgiving isnâ??t complete without mashed potatoes, and Idaho potatoes are known worldwide for their outstanding flavor and texture. Onions are basic to a Thanksgiving meal, from the stuffing to the top of the green bean casserole; these and other fresh vegetables like peas, corn and squash are all grown here. You canâ??t forget the relish tray--there are many specialty companies that make delicious pickled vegetables to fill your appetizer platter. Idaho wheat growers provide enough flour for rolls for every Idaho table and many more. Dried fruit was part of the first Thanksgiving; today, fruit pies adorn our holiday tables. From apples and pears to cherries and peaches, your Idaho-grown fruit pies--sweetened with Idaho sugar--wonâ??t last long, provided everyone has saved room! And thereâ??s nothing like a warm glass of Idaho apple cider or Idaho wine, whatever your preference. Last, but certainly not least, an Idaho table is only complete with eggnog, milk, butter and cheese supplied by Idahoâ??s dairy farmers. All of this good food can be best complimented with a beautiful tablecloth woven with Idaho wool. We are blessed to live in a state that has hard-working families that, for years, have tended the land and made it productive in so many ways. We are fortunate to have natural resources that provide world-renowned hunting and fishing opportunities. In Idaho, the quality of life for most is well above average, if not superior. We live here because itâ??s the best place to raise a family and find peace in our world. Thanksgiving calls us to remember our gifts, especially those which we tend to take for granted. If, like many Americans, you have food to fill your table, a warm, dry place to sleep, and family and friends to fill your life, truly count your blessings. Also, consider doing something elseâ??reach out to those in your community who may not have food, shelter, family or friends.President Abraham Lincolnâ??s words, 143 years ago, are more than appropriate today in 2006:â??The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensitive to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God...I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens, in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.â??Happy Idaho Thanksgiving, from my family to you and yours.WORD COUNT: 582