The Thoughtful Animal

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Ah, Thanksgiving. A day full of turkey, cranberries, pie, and, of course, SCIENCE! After you fill your stomach with gravy and stuffing, stuff your mind with all this great Thanksgiving science.

What’s any good Thanksgiving feast without some turkey? Emily Anthes of Wonderland starts the meal off with an offering of thanks for the turkey’s contribution to cancer research. But wait! That’s not all the science of turkeyhood to be consumed. Feast your minds on my contribution at the Scientific American Guest Blog: the social-cognitive abilities of turkeys. And in case you’re feeling particularly adventurous this year, you might consider trying a heritage turkey. (What’s a heritage turkey, anyway?)

We wouldn’t have turkeys to eat if we didn’t know how to feed turkeys in the first place! Ben Young Landis serves up a treatise on how turkeys prefer to snack: What Do Gobblers Gobble?

After all that turkey you might start to feel tired. But is it really because of the tryptophan? Or is it simply because of all that food?

It’s not all about the turkeys, of course. The potato, apple, wine grape, corn, chestnut, and cranberry all have secrets stored in their DNA that scientists are finally starting to unravel. Who knew that genomes could be so…tasty?

Don’t forget dessert! Did you know that pumpkin pie is particularly interesting for archaeologists? After all, the recipe represents a combination of ingredients from Native American, European and African cultures – pumpkin, pastry crust and allspice – “and represents a cultural mixing referred to as creolization by New World Scholars. The process involves cultures meeting, mixing and reformulating to produce new objects, techniques and ideas.”

That’s not all there is to learn from pie, though. Lab Lemming mixes up a discourse on the phase equilibria of pie crust. There’s physics everywhere, even in baked goods!

To wrap things up, Observations, the official blog of the Association for Psychological Science, warns that any Thanksgiving meal host should carefully consider what’s on the menu, as “the taste of the food and drinks that you serve your guests may impact their moral judgments of you.”

What would any Thanksgiving be without a stern warning about the dangers of overeating? Corby Vorland of Nutritional Blogma reminds us that “Thanksgiving and other holidays seem to be risk factors for weight gain. An overabundance of foods and beverages along with strong cultural and social influences make it especially important to be mindful of how much you are consuming.” Indeed, an important reminder for us all!

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate Thanksgiving, today!

Turkey image via Wikimedia Commons.

Comments

  1. #1 Barry
    November 26, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving.. to turkeys haha ;)

  2. #2 Ben
    November 26, 2010

    Great roundup! ;)

  3. #3 Jeff Sherry
    November 26, 2010

    Jason thanks for putting in the time to put together these links for fascinating reading.

  4. #4 Ian
    November 27, 2010

    Allspice is West Indian, not African. One of the few spices (allspice, vanilla and capsicum peppers) native to the Americas.

  5. #5 Jordan Fashions
    March 9, 2011

    We had no idea there was so much behind a slice of Turkey!! It sure is yummy though, is it Thanksgiving yet??

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