Chart: What A Standard Thanksgiving Meal Costs This Year

And just to be clear, by “standard,” we’re talking more along the lines of Grocery Outlet standard, not Whole Foods standard.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual nationwide informal price survey of traditional Thanksgiving food items, the average cost of this year’s meal for 10 people is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04. 

As you may already be thinking, this is a pretty darn conservative estimate, one that’s provided by an industry group with a less-than-subtle interest in emphasizing the affordability of food items. So, these figures should be taken with a grain of salt (figuratively, that is). The estimate assumes extremely low-cost — and likely low quality — ingredients, as well as questionably small serving sizes for 10. But for all us data geeks out there, it’s still worth a look (if only to get a sense of how much cheaper your meal might be if you shopped for bargain-basement prices).

The AFBF survey found that this year’s typical 16-pound turkey costs about $21.65, which is actually an 11-cent decrease from last year. Cranberries, stuffing and pie shells also dropped in price from last year. The slight total price uptick is due largely to dairy items, which have gotten slightly more expensive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pulled Over: Your Rights with the Police [An Illustrated Guide]

A Missouri grand jury’s decision on Monday to not charge a white police officer in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, sparked angry protests in cities around the country.

The incident, which happened last August in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, was followed by weeks of protests and rioting, drawing national attention to the issue of police force, particularly in low-income communities of color, where arrest rates are often disproportionately high and relations between law enforcement and residents are frequently tense and mistrustful. It also underscored the importance of understanding your rights if stopped by the police, and knowing how to act appropriately during these interactions to help avoid potentially dangerous confrontations. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains the rules of engagement (source links below). Continue reading

Why California’s Drought is America’s Problem

Despite a few recent downpours, California remains stuck in one of the most severe statewide droughts on record.

But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture — nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply.

Much is riding on the upcoming rainy season. Because if not enough water remains valuable for farmers to adequately irrigate their land, the impact will likely be felt far beyond the state’s borders.

In this audio slideshow, part of a photo essay project in the New Yorker, photographer Matt Black captures powerful images from the thirsty Central Valley, California’s breadbasket, and the farmers struggling to keep their crops alive. The excellent infographics below that, by Alex Park and Julia Lurie of Mother Jones (and re-posted with permission), give a glimpse of just how much agriculture is produced here and the amount of water required to grow it.

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Is Immigration Reform on the Horizon? [Animated Explainer]

Remember when U.S. immigration reform seemed like it was finally in the cards?

That was so 2013.

The brief burst of fanfare following passage of the Senate’s comprehensive bill last year faded quickly when the debate hit the bitterly divided House, where prospects for getting anything done have now been all but extinguished.

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On the Rise: How Minimum Wage Hikes Won Big with Voters [Interactive]

(View mobile version here)

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which has wallowed at $7.25 since 2007. But Congress didn’t budge, sidestepping the issue that has long been staunchly opposed by the Republican leadership.

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How Felon Voting Laws Could Impact Today’s Election [Map and Infographic]

The map below, created by designer/programmer Lewis Lehe, shows state-by-state felon voting laws and population impacts as reported by the The Sentencing Project, based on 2010 data. Note: among the states that deny voting rights to some felons who have completed the entirety of their sentences (including parole), restrictions vary significantly, and often depend on the severity of the crime.

[See article and infographic below map]

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Majority Rules: California’s Proposition System Explained [Infographic]

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, propositions are an entrenched part of California’s political system. In nearly every statewide election, voters wade through a slurry of local and statewide ballot measures, part of a system intended to expand direct democracy. Some are really complicated, some are controversial, and some are just kind of weird (like when voters passed Prop 6 in 1998, making it a felony for anyone to use a horse for meat — including a pony, donkey or mule, or this year’s failed effort to get a measure on the ballot to split California into six states). In next week’s midterm election, Californians will decide on six statewide propositions, in addition to a likely host of county and local measures.

So how do propositions actually make it onto the ballot? What are the different types? And what exactly is a referendum anyway? Comic journalist Andy Warner demystifies the Golden State’s century-old process.  Continue reading

Bay Area Ballot Measures Relevant to Young Folks: A Youth Radio Prop Guide

Includes interactive youth voter guide

youthVoting for the first time can be exciting, empowering and — if you head to the polls without doing your homework — downright daunting. That’s especially true in California, where voters are typically asked to weigh in on a litany of issues and candidates for both statewide and local races.

Next week’s midterm election on November 4 is no exception: the ballot is thick and dense, with lots of contests that can seem pretty obscure or just plain irrelevant, particularly for young voters. Continue reading