Science Trivia on Your Thanksgiving Plate | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Science Trivia on Your Thanksgiving Plate

When you need to change the subject at the Thanksgiving dinner table, these tidbits of food science trivia could help...

smithsonian.com

There's usually at least one relative who asks prying questions, tells terrible jokes or talks too much about their latest doctor's appointment at the Thanksgiving dinner table, isn't there? When you need to change the subject or fill an awkward pause, just look to your plate for inspiration. A few suggestions, based on recent science news:

Please pass the...



1) Turkey: Have you heard the good news? Researchers are almost done sequencing the turkey genome, which could help breeders improve the quality of the birds' meat for future Thanksgiving dinners. Also, did you know that turkeys were initially domesticated as a source of feathers rather than meat?

2) Rolls: Hey, speaking of flour...new archaeological evidence shows that humans were making flour from plants like cattails as long as 30,000 years ago!

3) Lima beans: These little rascals are smart. They can tell the difference between day and night, and play some sweet defense during daylight hours by secreting a nectar that attracts ants, whose presence repels hungry herbivores.

4) Yams: Did you know yams are a daily staple food for more than 60 million people in Africa? That's why the Global Crop Diversity Trust wants to collect 3,000 yam samples to preserve biodiversity in the African “yam belt.”

5) Cranberry sauce: Cranberries could help fight cavities and gum disease. (They can also help prevent urinary tract infections, but that may be too gross for table talk.)

6) Chocolate cream pie: Cacao may be even older than we thought. Kinda like Great-Aunt Matilda...uh, never mind!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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About Amanda Bensen

Amanda Bensen is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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