Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Turkey at Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I decided to do some research on the holiday that is dedicated to eating a wonderfully large and rich meal with family and friends. Since we all "want to know where our food comes from," I first decided to look up the different types of turkeys that are available (not to mention I was inspired by "The Chicken of Tomorrow!"). Ever since I was a child, my dad conveyed that white meat tasted far better. While darker meat tends to taste "gamey-er,"(a taste which some people prefer!) the turkeys that are primarily white meat have been chemically altered and ingested with antibiotics. While heritage turkeys may taste a bit different and cost a more per pound, they are a much better alternative to the chemically altered ones; their breeds has been around for hundreds of years and they closely resemble the wild turkeys. They also have a 50/50 ratio of white to dark meat so dark meat lovers are equally satisfied. The term "heritage turkey" also includes other breeds: Black, Bourbon Red, Royal Palm, and Slate. L However, these turkeys must be ordered in advance

You can also learn more about your thanksgiving turkeys type here: http://www.wsmv.com/story/16077291/thanksgiving-guide-the-different-kinds-of-turkey 

Another aspect of the turkey that I was interested in, involves a popular myth surrounding the bird and meal: tryptophan. While everyone argues that turkey eaten on Thanksgiving causes them to fall asleep, this is a popular misunderstanding; the chemical found in turkey, tryptophan, does not, in fact, cause people to fall asleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid (or building block of protein) that helps produce serotoinin, a chemical that is used to create melatonin. Serotonin and melatonin can alter ones mood and assist in sleep. Tryptophan is a chemical that is also found in many other types of foods as well such as milk and chicken.
Instead, it is the combination of Turkey with all of the other carbohydrates and sides people tend to indulge in at the holiday meal which cause people to feel extra sleepy post-meal. These carb-heavy side dishes "stimulate the release of insulin, which in turn triggers the uptake of most amino acids from the blood into the muscles except for tryptophan" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2014/11/24/no-turkey-doesnt-make-you-sleepy-the-science-of-thanksgiving-feasts/). The increase in tryptophan allows for the amino acid to travel to your brain and eliminates any of its other competition. Additionally, when people overeat they exert a lot of energy, which causes them to feel more exhausted than they normally would!

Talk about a good ice breaker to start the conversation with that family member you haven't seen in ten years! Cheers!

Don't believe me? Check it out: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-tryptophan ; http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2014/11/24/no-turkey-doesnt-make-you-sleepy-the-science-of-thanksgiving-feasts/

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