Holiday Treats with Ag Literacy

‘Tis the season for cookies, candy, and other sweet treats. Like virtually everything else we eat, we can thank agriculture for these goodies. Have a little fun as you learn how some of our holiday treats connect to farms!


Mmmm, beets. Don’t you just love them? You don’t? Well, chances are you will eat a beet product during holiday celebrations. That product is sugar! Let these facts take root and crystallize in your mind:

• Sugar beets are grown in several states, including Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, Michigan, and Nebraska.
• A mature sugar beet root is about a foot long, weighs 3-5 pounds, and contains 18% sugar in the form of sucrose.
• The refined sugar we eat is the same at the molecular level whether produced from conventional, organic, or genetically modified crops.
• Beet sugar makes up over half of U.S. domestic sugar production.

Watch sugar beet harvest in Michigan! Go to


The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without chocolate fudge and hot chocolate. Let’s melt down some facts to get the flavor of how we obtain this tasty ingredient.

• Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree, which is native to the rainforests of Central and South America.
• Cacao seeds, or cocoa beans, form in pods shaped like small footballs. The pods grow from the tree branches as well as its trunk.
• Cocoa beans are fermented and dried before being shipped to chocolate factories.
• Ivory Coast, Ecuador, and Ghana are three of the top countries from which the U.S. imports its cocoa.

Conduct a chocolate taste test! See National Ag in the Classroom activity at


Before you meet that special someone under the mistletoe, you might pop a mint or take few licks from a candy cane to freshen your breath. We’ve distilled a few cool facts about mint farming:

• Mint is a perennial crop that is replanted every 3-5 years.
• To harvest mint for oil, the crop is cut similarly to hay. The leaves are allowed to dry for a few days in the field before being picked up, chopped, and blown into tubs.
• A process called steam distillation is used to extract mint oil from the leaves.
• The top peppermint growing states are Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Indiana, California and Wisconsin.

See how mint is harvested! Go to

Complete this fun and festive activity sheet for a chance to win a prize!