Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

         It's happy thanksgiving for all except for turkeys. As we enjoy the Macy's thanksgiving parade and the arrival of Santa Claus, I can not help but feel sad for all the turkeys out there that will be slaughtered and roasted for tradition. As if to strenghten my dietairy resolve, on my trip to down to New York, I caught glimps of a rafter of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) from the train window. Due to a combination of surprize and being in a train zipping down the tracks, I missed a great photo oppportunity, oh well. There were four individuals, I'm guessing 3 females and one male, pecking around in a field. They looked a lot like this picture I found on wikipedia.

The two easily identifiable males on this picture are displaying, they don't always walk around all puffed up like this. Turkey's like lions, live in territorial groups of many females and generally one sometimes two males, called rafters (vs pride of lions).

Turkeys are a staple item of Thanksgiving dinner for the last two centuries, before then food was harder to come by and families were happy to celebrate with whatever fowl they could get. Thanksgiving is a North American celebration and disputably first took place in Plymouth where both Pilgrims and Indians joined together and feasted for three days thanking God for allowing them to survive through the winter and their first succesful harvest. Apparently, turkey became the fowl of choice after Queen Elizabeth's declared Rost Goose as St-Michael's Day offical meal. Michaelmas in Britain became associated with Thanksgiving in the States. So why don't we eat roast goose at thanksgiving? Turkey was more abundant and simpler to catch than goose in the New World.

Wild turkeys, contrairly to their domesticated counterparts, are quite agile flyers. They can be found from  the south of Canada to the south of Mexico. Over the years, they have been extirpated from various regions such as New Hampshire and Quebec due to over hunting and habitat loss. Thanks to hunting laws and habitat protection they are slowly making a come back. I am glad to announce that I have seen them pecking around the Eastern Townships (Quebec) these past few years.

Turkey is a good source of protein and is naturally low in fat. It's also loaded with zinc, iron, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin B. If your counting your calories, white meat is less fat and calorie rich than the darker meat.


Take care!


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