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It’s Turkey Day again

This wild turkey was photographed in Wayne County, PA.
Copyrighted photo by David B. Soete

November 22, 2016

RIVER VALLEY — As many people know by now, founding father Ben Franklin thought more highly of the American Turkey than the American Bald Eagle and wrote as much in a letter home from France in 1784.

He wrote, “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk [osprey]; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”

Being a bird that is rather more easy to shoot or capture because it tends to stay close to the ground, the turkey has become intractably associated with Thanksgiving. According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of Americans say they eat turkey on Thanksgiving and some 46 million of the big birds are eaten during the holiday.

But is it healthy? Nutritionists mostly say, “yes.” Turkey can be a healthier type of meat than say beef, but it depends on the mixture of white meat to dark meat. Dark meat has more calories than white meet, so a turkey burger with a high percentage of dark meat can have just as many calories as a beef burger.

And what about tryptophan, which is contained in turkeys and is said to have the effect of making people want to take a nap after a big meal of turkey? Experts say that is baloney, and that it’s really all the carbohydrates in the potatoes, stuffing and apple pie that make people drowsy.