The surprising origins of Thanksgiving food

Yesterday morning, I posted a blog post where I shared an ESRI Story Map of where traditional Thanksgiving foods are grown today in the United States. That history map covers where food comes from today, but it does not cover the historical origins of traditional Thanksgiving food. It is an interesting topic in itself. It’s Okay to Be Smart and TED-Ed offer video lessons on the origins of traditional Thanksgiving food.

through It’s okay to be smart The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods students can learn how the most common, traditional Thanksgiving foods originated and evolved into what they are today. This lesson provides an explanation of how archaeologists and scientists determined that turkeys were one of the first animals to be domesticated in North America. We also learn why the turkeys we find in the grocery store today are so much larger than those just a few generations ago.

Corn like the one pictured at the top of this blog post is often seen as a symbol of Thanksgiving. Today, corn and many products made with it are a staple of many of us. How did corn become an integral part of our diet? What has made it possible to become one of the most cultivated crops in the world? And what are the consequences of growing so much corn? These questions and many others are addressed in the TED-Ed lesson entitled How Corn Conquered the World.

Applications for education
In my post regarding ESRI’s History Map of Thanksgiving Foods I shared instructions for making your own history maps. Students could follow these instructions to create their own story cards about the origins of traditional Thanksgiving food. The process of researching and then compiling their history maps could address a range of topics, including plant germination and genetics, expansion to the west of the United States, and how traditions evolve.

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