This month, Ag in the Classroom lessons compared the first Thanksgiving meal with our Thanksgiving menu. Pilgrims may have eaten a bronze colored wild turkey, while today most of us enjoy a large white breed turkey. This “White Breasted Tom” has more breast meat and meatier thighs than early turkeys. Students learned how these birds are raised indoors to be protected from airborne bacteria, viruses and diseases carried by migratory birds. The flock is also protected from predators. The turkeys are fed a mixture of corn and soybean meal with a supplement of vitamins and minerals. The top producing states are Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Missouri. White turkey meat is an excellent choice for low fat protein.
Cranberries are one of the few native fruits to America. Native Americans used cranberries for medicine. Top producing cranberries states are Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon. Cranberries grow in moist ground called bogs. The bogs are flooded so berries can be harvested by floating. They have vitamin C and antioxidants.
Illinois is the top producing state for pumpkins. Commercial pumpkin production is centered around Morton. Pumpkin has vitamin A and is a great source of fiber. The early settlers baked a whole pumpkin by placing it in the ashes of their fire. Today we can enjoy pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
The Pilgrims hunted and gathered to supply most of their Thanksgiving meal. Now we can purchase everything for our holiday dinner at the local grocery stores, thanks to farmers. Students experimented with “glow germs” to learn about food safety and made fall crafts. Ag in the Classroom is sponsored by Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Ag Center, and Illinois Ag in the Classroom.