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State of the Plate

Your serving of field-to-fork news.

Nov 152018

Turkey trivia: 11 surprising, fun and downright compelling conversation starters to use next Thursday

Our mantra at State of the Plate is simple: be useful. With a light-hearted spirit buoyed by our love of the upcoming holiday, perhaps you can use this fun turkey trivia if conversation drags (or gets too heated) at the dinner table.

  1. Turkeys are not so dumb that they look up and drown when it rains. Turkeys have eyes on the sides of their heads to spot predators. (Versus an owl which has eyes like us to spot prey.) Looking up, a turkey would still be looking sideways. Granted, they are not geniuses.  
  2. Eating turkey does not make you sleepy. The amino acid, tryptophan, is about as prevalent in turkey as in other fowl. Cheddar cheese actually has more. “Sleepy turkey” syndrome is more likely a result of carbs—marshmallows, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and the like—that trigger insulin which removes amino acids from blood other than, you guessed it, tryptophan. Our advice, more turkey, fewer marshmallows!turkey with flag
  3. Benjamin Franklin did not recommend the turkey be the national bird. In a letter to his daughter regarding our national symbol, he disparaged the bald eagle as lacking moral character since it often scavenges while the turkey is, “… a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America …. He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage.” 
  4. Turkeys are darn good at converting what they eat to meat, with a “feed conversion ratio” of about 2:1. Two pounds of feed equals one pound of turkey. This is similar to chickens. You can check many sources on this, but they all come in around this ratio. Hmmm…what’s the FCR of humans?
  5. Turkey is pretty good for you. Dark meat has more vitamins and minerals than white but also more fat. The difference is small, though. See for yourself at Medical News Today and this turkey nutrition chart. Light and dark are packed with protein: about 24 grams in just three ounces. Come on … you are going to eat way more than three ounces!
  6. How many turkeys does America produce per year? Somewhere around 245,000,000. That’s a lot of Uncle Andy grabbing a drumstick. Some 20% will be eaten next Thursday.
  7. Do turkeys fly? Heck, yeah! Wild turkeys can hit 55 mph for a short distance. They can run in bursts of 25 mph. (Come see some outside the windows of C|O.)
  8. We already established turkeys are native to North America (thanks, Benjamin). Here is how they got around the world: Aztecs domesticated a sub-species; Spanish brought them back to Europe; Pilgrims brought domestic stock back across the pond. Do you think they preferred white or dark meat?
  9. Of course, we all know Norman Rockwell and James Audubon painted turkeys. Art News says so did Claude Monet, Francisco de Goya and Roy Lichtenstein. Haute cuisine! turkey portrait
  10. While @turkey is about the country and not about our favorite bird, America’s Thanksgiving centerpiece actually gets its name from the country. The birds got to England via so-called “Turkey Merchants” who traded across the Mediterranean and brought this delicacy to English ports.
  11. Save this one for AFTER dinner! According to The Smithsonian and Discover, you can tell the sex of a turkey by the shape of its droppings. Seriously … it has to do with laying eggs or not. Swirl for the girls and J-shaped for the boys.

Thanks for having a little fun with this issue of State of the Plate. We will be back to serious concerns next month. Turkey references below.

  1. Snopes: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/drown-and-out/
  2. LiveScience: https://www.livescience.com/41543-thanksgiving-myth-busted-eating-turkey-won-t-make-you-sleepy.html
  3. The Franklin Institute: https://www.fi.edu/benjamin-franklin/franklin-national-bird
  4. Poultry hub: http://www.poultryhub.org/species/commercial-poultry/turkey/
  5. Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285736.php
  6. Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/196092/total-number-of-turkeys-raised-in-the-us-since-1999/
  7. The Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-wild-turkeys-387112
  8. Smithsonian: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/14-fun-facts-about-turkeys-665520/
  9. Art News: https://news.artnet.com/market/12-magical-turkey-themed-artworks-for-thanksgiving-174743
  10. Now I Know: http://nowiknow.com/how-turkey-got-its-name/
  11. Discover: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/science-sushi/2017/11/23/sexing-turkey-poop/#.W-CuHpNKiUk

 

 

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