Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means we’re about to start thinking about this little red berry. It will, we’re all betting, be the only certified super food on your plate come Thanksgiving dinner time (unless your family does kale or something). Native to North America and was first used as a food by Native Americans. It was also used as an effective dyeing agent, so don’t spill any on your shirt. We have two species , large and small (Vaccinium macrocarpon and Vaccinium oxycoccus) which are found naturally in peat bogs and other wetlands across the northern half of North America, including all of New York state. As the fruit became more popular, farms were developed to meet the demand. This delicious fruit was planted in areas that could be flooded for part of the season; the berries are harvested each fall. Today, Wisconsin and Massachusetts are the two largest producing states. Sailors used them as scurvy prevention in the 19th century as the berries are rich in vitamin C. Now we know that it can lower your risk for some common cancers (including mouth and lung cancers). Come Thanksgiving; make sure you load up on it. But don’t stress too much, they also stay fresh in the refrigerator longer than most other fruits (up to 2 months!) and you can also pop a bag in the freezer for use later.
Follow these links for more fun facts about this all-American fruit!
In 1782 Benjamin Franklin wrote “the wild turkey is a bird of courage that would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on,” in an effort to promote the turkey over the bald eagle as the national emblem of the United States. Although the turkey was not selected to hold the prestigious position of national emblem, the bird is certainly an icon for the month of November and the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.
There is much more to know about turkeys than what side dishes the bird pairs nicely with on the Thanksgiving table. To be the hostess with the mostess (turkey knowledge, that is) try sharing some of the following fun facts with your dinner guests this Thursday!
Turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and can fly up to an impressive speed of 55 miles per hour.
The area of bare skin on a turkey’s throat and head changes color depending on its level of stress or excitement. A male turkey’s head will turn blue when excited, or turn red when it is preparing to fight.
Male turkeys have beards and spurs. The older the turkey, the longer the beard. Females are called hens, chicks are known as poults, and young males are jakes. See the photo below for more information about turkey anatomy!
Because turkeys have a number of natural predators, including foxes, coyotes, and raccoons, they often sleep perched atop tree branches with their flock. In the morning, they call out a series of yelps before descending from the tree to ensure that the rest of their roosting group has made it safely through the night.
Turkeys have excellent daytime eyesight that is 3x better than a human’s! A turkey’s vision range covers 270 degrees, and they can also see in color. Turkeys have poor vision at night.
Wild turkeys were almost hunted to extinction by the early 1900’s, but recovery efforts have brought their numbers up to seven million across North America today. Allegany State Park in western New York was the source site for turkeys that were later reintroduced across the rest of the state in the 1950’s. It was presumed that these turkeys wandered across the state border from Pennsylvania.
Post by Megan Phillips, OPRHP. Photos by Lilly Schelling, OPRHP.