Bitterroot Outdoor Journal – Thanksgiving Food
This week on the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal, we spend a little more time indoors as Bob Danley gives us the "inside story" on some traditional Thanksgiving meal traditions.
The Bitterroot Valley has burgeoning populations of wild turkeys, whose cousins are domesticated for the main course of many Thanksgiving feasts. Bob found that turkey and chicken, both part of the pheasant family (Galliformes Order), provide 30 percent of meat that humans consume worldwide. By the way, the pheasants were among the very few birds that survived the dinosaur extinction because they lived close to the earth and in protected areas.
Turkeys have an average wingspan of 4.5 feet and can weigh about 16 pounds. Their colors are coppery/bronze from a base of dark/brown/blackish feathers (photo above). The only other turkey species in the world is the Similar Ocellated Turkey. It's not domesticated and is found in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Habitat loss has reduced its population significantly. By the way, the largest bird by weight is the Trumpeter Swan at 23 pounds and the bird with the biggest wingspan is the California Condor at 9 feet.
Bob also looked at mushrooms, which are on many holiday recipes. The white button mushroom is the most popular and is in the wild brown mushroom family, which was first cultivated by the French back in 1707. The Pasteur Institute improved the process for growing in 1893. Then, in 1925, a guy in Pennsylvania discovered the white mutation, which he began to promote. Now, it's 90 percent of all mushroom sales in the US. By the way, the Portabella mushroom is in the same wild brown mushroom family.
An odd mixture of plants is in the family that includes the deadly poisonous Nightshade (Solanum), which can be found in the Bitterroot, though it's not native to the area. There are over 1,500 species of that Solanum genus, and the general rule Bob found is that the green parts and unripened fruit are poisonous, while the ripe fruit and tubers are edible. Those ripened fruits include the common Tomato and the Potato. by the way, the first tomatoes in South America were the size of peas and were cultivated by 500 B.C. The Potatoes originated in Peru and there are now 5,000 varieties. Take your pick.
Happy Thanksgiving from Bob at the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal and from Steve at 1240 KLYQ AM. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings during the 7:30 a.m. Bitterroot Morning newscast on 1240 AM KLYQ and www.klyq.com.