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Posts Tagged: Thanksgiving

Books, videos and songs highlight Native views on ‘thanksgiving’

From left, common manzanita berries, black oak acorns, California wild grapes, salt and black walnuts. "These foods represent generations of knowledge, dedication and perseverance. It is so wonderful to think about each one of them, where they came from, the last time I was there and when I'm going back to visit, who taught me about them, what the plants, animals and land have also taught me, and all of our time together," said Peter Nelson. Photo by Peter Nelson

UC takes some first steps in addressing historical wrongs

Thanksgiving can be a time of celebration, gratitude and sharing. It is also often a time when people assist the most vulnerable in our communities, through donations to food banks, volunteer service and similar acts of compassion. But it is also a time of remembrance and mourning in Native American communities. 

The narrative that many people have been taught beginning in elementary school about the First Thanksgiving celebration in the United States is based on historically inaccurate myths that fail to acknowledge the devastation wrought by settler colonialism, including genocide, land theft, forced assimilation and cultural appropriation.

Many Native people refuse to celebrate Thanksgiving; some engage in a day of mourning, protesting the genocide wrought on their ancestors and ongoing oppression. Native scholar Philip Deloria (Standing Rock Sioux) wrote about some elements of this in his contribution to The New Yorker several years ago, but for additional information interested readers could also turn to the essay“Deconstructing the Myths of ‘The First Thanksgiving'” by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin. 

Educators – in formal and informal settings – play an important role in spreading awareness of the atrocities experienced by Native peoples at the hands of the European settlers. In April of this year, University of California President Michael Drake recognized and acknowledged the historical wrongs endured by Native Americans in announcing the UC's Native American Opportunity Plan, which covers tuition and fees for California students from federally recognized tribes. But the statement fell short of acknowledging the ways in which UC has and continues to benefit as a result of those wrongs.

Free tuition for California Native Americans was one of the recommendations in the 2021 report “The University of California Land Grab: A Legacy of Profit from Indigenous Land,” co-authored by UC Berkeley's Native American Student Development program and the Joseph Myers Center, based on a two-part workshop series held in 2020 and covered recently in the June 2022 issue of UC Berkeley's alumni magazine.

While the new UC tuition and fee remission plan is a big step in the right direction, it excluded the many California Native Americans who are not members of federally recognized tribes. Fortunately, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria created a scholarship fund to cover tuition and fees for these students.

Another important step that University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is taking, in alignment with recommendations from the “Land Grab” report, is the recruitment of three new UC Cooperative Extension academics centering Indigenous communities and perspectives on topics related to farming and food sovereignty, climate resilient disaster planning and policy, and beneficial burning and Indigenous land stewardship.

The focus of these positions acknowledges the importance of strengthening partnerships with Native American communities, uplifting their voices, leadership, concerns and solutions around addressing some of the most pressing environmental and societal challenges facing California communities today. Voices from the Washoe Tribe, for example, were central in the recent UC California Naturalist statewide conference along the north shore of Lake Tahoe. 

Native perspectives on thanksgiving

Tohono O’odham women make bread in the Sonoran desert. Photo by Angelo Baca

Celebrations of harvest certainly did not originate with settlers and Native Americans sharing a meal in the 17th century. Rather, they have been integral to the fabric of Indigenous existence since time immemorial, as Native communities view “thanksgiving” as a time for honoring the ancestors, which includes the lands, plants and animals that are understood as relations.

In her book, “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Robin Wall Kimmerer describes how the Haudenosaunee people (in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada), recite the Thanksgiving Address, “a river of words as old as the people themselves” known in the Onondaga language as the Words that Come Before All Else, “whenever they gathered…before anything else was done. ”

At its core, the Thanksgiving Address is an expression of gratitude for “the ones who share their gifts with the world,” including the water, the fish, the plant foods and medicines, the animals, the winds, and the sun and the moon and the stars.

Taking a decolonizing approach to Thanksgiving rejects the myths of Thanksgiving and harmful stereotypes about Native peoples that reinforce oppression, and invites opportunities for deepening a collective understanding of Indigenous history, amplifying Native perspectives that highlight the diversity of Indigenous peoples and foodways, and support Native-led food sovereignty and land stewardship initiatives that affirm contemporary presence and self-determination of Native people in 21st century America. 

A meal of acorn mush, seaweed and salmon Nelson made in commemoration of his grandfather, who was a member of the Graton Rancheria community. "He served in the Navy during WWII, and he's the reason I'm here doing what I do," Nelson said. Photo by Peter Nelson

UC Berkeley Professor Peter Nelson (Coast Miwok and tribal citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) offers this helpful insight: “We have plenty of points at which we give thanks for what our non-human relations give us or honor the changing of the seasons and gathering times. The fall in my language, Coast Miwok (Tamal Machchaw), is ‘umpa walli' or ‘acorn time.' Some of these concepts don't exactly translate from English. ‘Thank you,' or ‘ka molis,' means something more like ‘I'm glad/happy.' We express a state of being or how it makes us feel. The same is true of the concept of ‘I'm sorry,' which doesn't exist in our language. We have to contrive something to the effect of ‘my heart is sad' – ‘ka wuskin sawa.' Again, a state of being and there is a sense that you should just express how to fix things if they are out of sorts. Hearing a settler apology isn't enough. Do something about it.”

What can you do?

Below are just a few ideas of how you can learn about the authentic history of Native Americans and center your Thanksgiving messaging around social and environmental justice. Equally important, through these resources, you can learn about contemporary Native American peoples and communities in both urban and rural areas.

Also included are ways to support the growing Indigenous food sovereignty movement among Native Americans to reclaim and restore their food systems through ecological and cultural restoration and self-determination.

Decolonizing the history and meaning of Thanksgiving

  • Share these powerful short videos on Thanksgiving word association and Native people describing Thanksgiving that are helpful for understanding the Native American perspective on the holiday.
  • View this brief speech by Linda Coombs (Aquinnah Wampanoag), who used to direct the Wampanoag Indigenous Program and Plymouth Plantation, at the site of the presumptive original Thanksgiving meal, for a greater perspective on the myths surrounding the origins of Thanksgiving.
  • Also read this speech that Frank James attempted to deliver before the 1970 Pilgrim's Progress parade in Plymouth. His rejection after the organizers heard the content of his speech led to the National Day of Mourning counter-parade that takes place each year.
  • This article, “The Thanksgiving Tale We Tell Is a Harmful Lie. As a Native American, I've Found a Better Way to Celebrate the Holiday,” is a helpful resource where “Sioux Chef” Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) makes the case for focusing Thanksgiving on values that apply to everybody: togetherness, generosity and gratitude – as well as embracing Indigenous foods, which are centrally featured in Thanksgiving meals including turkey, corn, beans, pumpkins, maple, cranberries, wild rice, etc.
  • An excellent compilation of resources for youth and families by Lindsey Passenger Wieck, can be found in “Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools,” that includes books, articles and inspirations for lesson plans, several of which are listed below.
  • Helpful book suggestions and educational resources for teaching Thanksgiving in a socially responsible way, including lesson plans for all ages, are provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center at https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/teaching-thanksgiving-in-a-socially-responsible-way.

Learn about the Indigenous history of the United States and the Native lands and people where you live

Map of tribal lands in California
  • Read Peter Nelson's “Where Have All the Anthros Gone? The Shift in California Indian Studies from Research “on” to Research “with, for, and by” Indigenous Peoples”: https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aman.13633.
  • Spend some time researching the environmental and cultural history of the lands where you are standing, starting with identifying whose lands you are residing in via this interactive map of Indigenous territories and learning about how you can support them.
  • Learn about how the University of California and the other land-grant institutions of higher education were founded upon the expropriation and sale of Indigenous lands that were “granted” to every state under the Morrill Act in this High Country News article and this UC Land-Grab Workshop series. On this interactive map created by UC IGIS at https://arcg.is/1GTiuv, you can identify specific parcels that were “granted” and the Native communities from whom they were taken.
  • Read “The University of California Land Grab: A Legacy of Profit from Indigenous Land,” a report based on the proceedings of the 2020 University of California Land Grab forum by Rosalie Zdzienicka Fanshel, Phenocia Bauerle (Apsaálooke), Deborah Lustig and Jennifer Sowerwine. (Executive summary)
  • Educate yourself about the history of Indigenous peoples and the American genocide in the United States. Here are some recommended titles: 
    • Benjamin Madley's “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873”
    • “Custer Died for Your Sins” by Vine Deloria (Standing Rock Sioux)
    • Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz's “An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States”
    • Dee Brown's classic “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”
  • Learn about Indigenous ways of knowing and Native Science. Again, here are some recommended titles: 
    • “Braiding Sweetgrass”by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Citizen Potawatomi)
    • “Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples” by Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Maori)  
    • “Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations and Contexts” by Margaret Kovach (Nêhiyaw and Saulteaux ancestry from Treaty Four, Saskatchewan; enrolled member of Pasqua First Nation)
    • “Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence” by Gregory Cajete (Santa Clara Pueblo)
  • Learn about how Native Americans have managed California's landscape since time immemorial in Kat Anderson's best-selling book “Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources”
  • Share what you learn with those in their formative years. There are numerous websites with information decolonizing Thanksgiving (only some of which are referenced above), and both “Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States”(Dunbar-Ortiz) and “Braiding Sweetgrass” (Kimmerer) are available in modified versions aimed at young adult readers. 

Learn about, support and amplify Native-led food sovereignty and land-stewardship initiatives in California

Vincent Medina (left) and Louis Trevino are co-founders of Café Ohlone, located at UC Berkeley’s Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Menu items are made from the partners’ family recipes. (UC Berkeley photo by Sofia Liashcheva)
  • Feature Native chefs in your communications such as Vincent Medina (Chochenyo Ohlone) and Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone) of ot?t?oy/Café Ohlone and Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo) to honor their Indigenous food heritage; a PBS NewsHour crew recently featured ottoy, a collaboration between Cafe Ohlone and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and the efforts of the museum to change its approach to repatriation of ancestral remains, funerary objects and objects of cultural patrimony.
  • Dine at Cafe Ohlone, which is located at UC Berkeley.
  • Watch the film “Gather,” featuring Indigenous chefs, scientists and activists around the country working to restore their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, including Samuel Gensaw (Yurok), co-founder of the Ancestral Guard, committed to restoring the foodways of North Coast California.
  • Read about Indigenous foodways initiatives through Civil Eats reporting.
  • Promote Native food purveyors, and other Native-owned businesses not only in November but year-round, as a way of honoring Native culture and ethical practices. The Intertribal Agriculture Council's American Indian Foods Program showcases American Indian food businesses and their products, many of which are grown following traditions of their ancestors.
  • Learn about and support Indigenous-led land stewardship efforts to restore cultural burning practices by the Karuk Tribe, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust and the North Fork Mono Tribe, among others, to enhance healthy relationships with the land and mitigate against catastrophic fires that have devastated California communities and ecosystems.
  • Read the First Nations Development Institute's report on California Indigenous land stewards for more information on both urban and rural Indigenous-led stewardship initiatives and Native perspectives across the state, including the Sogorea Te' Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return ofChochenyo andKarkinOhlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship.
    Samuel Gensaw (Yurok), co-founder of the Ancestral Guard, is featured in the film Gather.

Honoring Native people and perspectives on Thanksgiving

  • In addition to reading, you may consider visiting a local Native American museum or cultural center during some part of the holiday (courtesy of Eve Bratman) – or on December 3 for the upcoming first annual Tribal Museums Day
  • Play the song “Custer Died for your Sins” and other songs of Indigenous resistanceas music during your celebration. For starters, check out Rebel Beat Radio and Indigenous Resistance (courtesy of Eve Bratman).
  • Take a moment of silence and remembrance for ancestors and the people whose land you are occupying, before your meal. Set intentions to learn more and take action to support Native people.
Posted on Monday, November 21, 2022 at 8:58 AM
  • Author: Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, UC Berkeley
Focus Area Tags: Family

Native people take a different view of Thanksgiving

From left, common manzanita berries, black oak acorns, California wild grapes, salt and black walnuts. "These foods represent generations of knowledge, dedication and perseverance. It is so wonderful to think about each one of them, where they came from, the last time I was there and when I'm going back to visit, who taught me about them, what the plants, animals and land have also taught me, and all of our time together," said Peter Nelson. Photo by Peter Nelson
Thanksgiving can be a time of celebration, gratitude and sharing. It is also often a time when people assist the most vulnerable in our communities, through donations to food banks, volunteer service at missions and shelters, and similar acts of compassion coinciding with the start of a difficult cold season for those without adequate resources. That said, it can also be a time of remembrance and mourning in Native American communities. 

The narrative that many people have been taught beginning in elementary school about the First Thanksgiving celebration in the United States is based on historically inaccurate myths that fail to acknowledge the devastation wrought by settler colonialism, including genocide, land theft, forced assimilation and cultural appropriation.

Many Native people refuse to celebrate Thanksgiving; some engage in a day of mourning, protesting the genocide wrought on their ancestors and ongoing oppression. Others pay respect to time-honored values and traditions centering on family, the earth and the harvest. As educators, it is important for us to understand the atrocities experienced by Native peoples at the hands of the European settlers, and Native perspectives about thanksgiving—a time of honoring the ancestors including the lands, plants and animals that are understood as relations—when we are communicating about the meaning of the Thanksgiving celebration.

Tohono O’odham women make bread in the Sonoran desert. Photo by Angelo Baca

Celebrations of harvest certainly did not originate with settlers and Native Americans sharing a meal in the 17th century, but rather have been integral to the fabric of Indigenous existence since time immemorial, noted UC Berkeley Professor Elizabeth Hoover (Mohawk/Mi'kmaq descent).

“For Haudenosaunee people (in the northeast), the Thanksgiving Address (Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen, the Words that Come Before All Else) is recited before every important event,” Hoover said. “There are thanksgiving feasts held when the thunders start, when the sap flows, when it's time for the seeds to be planted, when the first wild strawberries come out, when the green beans are ready, when the green corn is ready, when the harvest is ready — many times throughout the year.”  

Taking a decolonizing approach to Thanksgiving rejects the myths of Thanksgiving and harmful stereotypes about Native peoples that reinforce oppression, and invites opportunities for deepening our collective understanding of Indigenous history, amplifying Native perspectives that highlight the diversity of Indigenous peoples and foodways, and support Native-led food sovereignty and land stewardship initiatives that affirm contemporary presence and self-determination of Native people in 21st-century America. 

A meal of acorn mush, seaweed and salmon Nelson made in commemoration of his grandfather, who was a member of the Graton Rancheria community. "He served in the Navy during WWII, and he's the reason I'm here doing what I do," Nelson said. Photo by Peter Nelson

UC Berkeley Professor Peter Nelson (Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) offers this helpful insight: “We have plenty of points at which we give thanks for what our non-human relations give us or honor the changing of the seasons and gathering times. The fall in my language, Coast Miwok (Tamal Machchaw), is 'umpa walli or acorn time. Some of these concepts don't exactly translate from English. ‘Thank you,' or ka molis, means something more like I'm glad/happy. We express a state of being or how it makes us feel. The same is true of the concept of ‘I'm sorry,' which doesn't exist in our language. We have to contrive something to the effect of ‘my heart is sad,' ka wuskin sawa. Again, a state of being and there is a sense that you should just express how to fix things if they are out of sorts. Hearing a settler apology isn't enough. Do something about it.”

Consider centering Thanksgiving messaging around social and environmental justice by sharing resources for learning about the authentic history of Native Americans, contemporary Native American peoples and communities in both urban and rural areas, and supporting the growing Indigenous food sovereignty movement among Native Americans to reclaim and restore their food systems througheco-cultural restoration and self-determination.

Native Americans hold thanksgiving feasts many times throughout the year, says Elizabeth Hoover, shown braiding corn.

The following are resources suggested by Elizabeth Hoover, Peter Nelson and others to learn more about the perspective of Native Americans on the U.S. holiday.

Decolonizing the history and meaning of Thanksgiving:

Map of tribal lands in California

Learn about the Indigenous history of the United States and the Native lands and people where you live:

Learn about, support and amplify Native-led food sovereignty and land-stewardship initiatives in California:

  • Watch the film Gather, featuring Indigenous chefs, scientists and activists around the country working to restore their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, including Samuel Gensaw (Yurok), co-founder of the Ancestral Guard, committed to restoring the foodways of North Coast California.  
  • Read about Indigenous foodways initiatives through Civil Eats reporting.
  • Feature Native chefs in your communications such as Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino of Café Ohlone and Crystal Wahpepah to honor their Indigenous food heritage.
  • Promote Native food purveyors, and other Native-owned businesses not only in November but year-round, as a way of honoring Native culture and ethical practices.
  • Learn about and support Indigenous-led land stewardship efforts to restore cultural burning practices by the Karuk Tribe, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, and the North Fork Mono Tribe, among others, to enhance healthy relationships with the land and mitigate against catastrophic fires that have devastated California communities and ecosystems.
  • Read the First Nations Development Institute's report on California Indigenous land stewards for more information on both urban and rural Indigenous-led stewardship initiatives and Native perspectives across the state, including the Sogorea Te' Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship. 
  • Read Elizabeth Hoover's blog about Native American farming and food sovereignty http://gardenwarriorsgoodseeds.com.

Honoring Native people and perspectives on Thanksgiving:

  • In addition to reading, you may consider visiting a local Native American museum or cultural center during some part of the holiday (courtesy of Eve Bratman).
  • Play the song Custer Died for your Sins and other songs of Indigenous resistance as music during your celebration. For starters, check out Rebel Beat Radio and Indigenous Resistance (courtesy of Eve Bratman
  • Take a moment of silence and remembrance for ancestors and the people whose land you are occupying, before your meal. Set intentions to learn more about and take action to support Native people.

Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, and Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, collaborate with Native Americans on environmental and food sovereignty research.

 

Posted on Monday, November 15, 2021 at 11:19 AM
  • Author: Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley
  • Author: Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties
Focus Area Tags: Family

Vibrant purple sweet potatoes are a healthful Thanksgiving surprise

Candied sweet potatoes – dripping with butter, brown sugar and pecans – or a casserole of mashed sweet potatoes smothered with toasted marshmallows are common sides on the Thanksgiving table. These rich dishes belie the true nature of sweet potatoes, which are nutrient packed, low-glycemic root vegetables that can be a part of a healthy diet year round.

Research by UC Cooperative Extension advisor Scott Stoddard is aimed at making sweet potatoes an even more healthful and attractive food. Stoddard is working with sweet potato growers in Merced County to see if sweet potatoes with dusky purple skin and vibrant purple flesh, called purple/purples, can be grown by more farmers in California. The unusual color and health benefits command a higher price, opening a potentially profitable niche market.

The Stokes sweet potato, right, has better color than the L-14-15-P experimental cultivar.

“Purple flesh sweet potatoes have beta-carotene, like the more common orange varieties, plus anthocyanins,” Stoddard said. “It's like eating a handful of blueberries with your sweet potato.”

California is a significant producer of sweet potatoes. About 80 percent of the California crop – 16,000 acres – is grown in Merced County, on farms ranging from 5 acres up to several thousand acres. In 2015, the crop's value in Merced County was $195 million. About 1,000 acres are grown in Kern County and 2,000 acres in Stanislaus County. These locations have the sandy and sandy-loam soils ideal for sweet potatoes to develop their distinctive shape and smooth skin.

The white skinned, purple flesh sweet potato, left, is the Okinawan variety from Hawaii. On the right is a rainbow of sweet potatoes that are part of Scott Stoddard's experiments.

Sweet potatoes with purple flesh are not common, but they have been around for quite some time. They are the main type of sweet potato grown in Hawaii, for example. Several years ago, growers in Stokes County, N.C., selected a particularly beautiful and tasty cultivar, naming it the Stokes Sweet Potato and marketing nationwide with Frieda's Specialty Produce. In California, A. V. Thomas Produce in Livingston acquired an exclusive agreement with the company to grow and market Stokes purple/purple sweet potatoes.

“The number of acres of Stokes has really expanded in just a few years,” Stoddard said. "There is a lot of consumer interest in purple-fleshed sweet potatoes."

Scott Stoddard, right, discussed sweet potato variety trials with A.V. Thomas Produce supervisor Frank Lucas, left, and field manager George Guitierrez, center.

That doesn't close the door on purple/purples for California's other growers interested in the niche. Stoddard conducts field trials in cooperation with local farmers that include purple/purples. In one trial, 50 types of sweet potatoes of many different colors are being grown to determine whether they have key characteristics needed for local production. From there, he selects a limited number to grow in replicated trials, to determine their potential to produce a high yield, store well, and develop good size, shape, color and flavor. Of these, only one purple/purple made it into the replicated trial.

“In some purple/purples, the flavor can be off, or bitter,” Stoddard said. “We get rid of those right away.”

Scott Stoddard weighs sweet potatoes as part of the variety evaluation process.

One of the cultivars in Stoddard's study, which goes by the experimental code number L-14-15-P, was bred in 2014 by Don La Bonte, a plant breeder at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. The potato has some good attributes, but lacks the uniform deep purple color of the Stokes variety.

“Unfortunately, it's probably not good enough to displace Stokes,” Stoddard said. “It's a good start, but we have to continue screening purple/purples to find a variety that offers disease resistance, good yield, and consistent deep purple flesh color."

Good eats

Sweet potatoes can be eaten raw or cooked. To eat raw, simply peel, cut into sticks and serve with low-fat ranch dressing or apple sauce for dipping. Grate fresh, uncooked sweet potatoes and add to burritos or tacos or sprinkle on salads for a sweet, nutritious crunch.

Cooked sweet potatoes can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, skin and all, plain or with a small pat of butter.

Microwaving is a great way to quickly prepare the vegetable. Wash potatoes and pat dry. Prick skin with a knife in 2 to 3 places. Cook on high for 5 minutes. Turn over. Then cook for another 5 minutes, more or less.

UC Cooperative Extension's sweet potato expert Scott Stoddard says he prefers his sweet potatoes baked.

“Baked is way better,” he said. “Baking gives time to convert the starch to maltose.”

Sweet potatoes are mostly starch, but have a special enzyme that breaks down starch into maltose when cooking. Slower cooking in the oven provides time for the conversion, imparting a subtly sweet caramelized flavor.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the lower oven rack with foil, then prick sweet potatoes with a fork and place directly on the middle oven rack, above the rack with foil. Bake 45 minutes for sweet potatoes 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 8:49 AM

Simple tips for the best Thanksgiving

            “What if, today, we were grateful for everything?” asks Charlie Brown.

 

You don't need to be a beloved cartoon character to understand the meaning of Thanksgiving. Giving thanks seems like an excellent goal for this year's celebration … and every day, really. Here are some important steps for a healthy, delicious and memorable holiday.

First, be safe
Millions of Americans will be celebrating this Thanksgiving. Foodborne illness is a real concern. So, let's make sure everybody enjoys the meal and doesn't get ill.

From safely thawing a turkey to making sure it's properly cooked, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a range of tips to keep your holiday safe. (One hint: take care with the stuffing). The USDA's famous Meat & Poultry Hotline will remain open on Thanksgiving Day until 11 a.m. PST; their team of experts is on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Want a little extra help? If you've never cooked a turkey, Noelle Carter breaks it down for you in this brilliant step-by-step primer; it appears in the Los Angeles TimesThe New York Times has created an interactive menu planner that factors in the number of guests, dietary preferences, your cooking experience and provides a game plan for the big day (tips, recipes, etc). It's useful...and fun!

No, Thanksgiving feast would be complete without pie. Whether you're a sweet potato or pumpkin pie fan, good crust is essential. Making a good pie crust isn't rocket science...but it does involve molecular science. In this video, University of California researcher Amy Rowat uses science to show you how to make the best pie crust ever.

Second, savor the meal

Did you know that there's a science to eating? Before you pile lots of food on your plate, take time to consider these seven steps from University of California scientists and researchers; they will assure that you savor every bite of your meal.

 

Third, don't waste

Enjoy your meal, but make it a point to reduce food waste this holiday season.

UC ANR researcher Wendi Gosliner of UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute recently shared this information about #foodwaste:

“Food waste presents a major challenge in the United States. Estimates suggest that up to 40% of the food produced nationally never gets consumed, causing substantial economic and environmental harms. Wasted food utilizes vast quantities of precious land, water and human resources, yet rather than nourishing people, it feeds landfills, producing methane gasses that poison the environment. Much of the food waste (43%) occurs at the household level.”

 


We sought out experts from UC ANR's Master Food Preserver Program for advice on how to use leftovers. Some takeaways: refer to this food storage chart to determine how long you can safety store leftover food. For more tips, click here. Leftover turkey can be used to make a delicious homemade stock that can serve as the base for additional meals. We provide a recipe and information about how to safely preserve stock here.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving, the staff of UC ANR wishes you a safe, happy and healthy holiday.

 

Editor's Note: UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers and educators draw on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. We operate the 4-H, Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver Programs. We live where you live. Learn more here. Are you a #veteran or #beginning farmer interested in learning more about poultry production? UC ANR is co-hosting a series of poultry workshops beginning in December and throughout 2017. Get the details here.

Related Reading:

Learn more about native and indigenous foods from Valerie Segrest of the Muckleshoot Tribe in the Pacific Northwest; the post appears on the UC Food Observer blog.

Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 8:24 AM

Thanksgiving persimmons are autumn joy

When the weather cools in the fall and the holidays draw near, orange orbs ripen on persimmon trees in California to offer a fresh autumn sweetness in time for Thanksgiving recipes and holiday décor.

At the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center (SCREC) in Irvine, a collection of 53 persimmon varieties are at their peak in November when the public is invited for tasting and harvesting at the annual persimmon field day.

“We want to raise awareness about persimmons,” said Tammy Majcherek, SCREC community educator. “It's a beautiful tree and a great addition to any landscape. Persimmon trees provide shade in the summer, healthy fruit in the fall, then drop their leaves and allow the sun's warmth to come through in the winter. It's a win-win situation as far as landscape trees go.”

Visitors are briefed before entering the persimmon variety block to taste and harvest persimmons.

The persimmon collection came to the research center in the 1960s, when the late UCLA subtropical horticulture professor Art Schroeder arranged to move his collection of persimmon varieties to another venue because the pressure of urban development at the Westwood campus became too great.

Persimmons are native in two parts of the world, China and the United States. The Chinese persimmon made its way to Japan, where its popularity soared. The American persimmon comes from the Southeastern United States, however, most California persimmons trace their lineage to Asia.

California leads the nation in persimmon production, according to the California Department of Agriculture Crop Report, but with a value of about $21 million in 2012, it represents just a small fraction of the state's $19 billion 2012 tree fruit and nut value.

A display of fuyu-type and hachiya-type persimmons helped participants distinguish which fruits are ready to eat.

Nevertheless, to the visitors who came out to tour UC's collection at SCREC, persimmon is a choice fruit. Participants on the early-morning VIP tour received a large shopping bag to fill with various varieties of fuyu and hachiya persimmons. Fuyu are flat, yellow-orange fruit that can be eaten right off the tree like apples or allowed to mature to a super-sweet soft pulp. Hachiya are redder, heart-shaped and astringent when not fully ripened. “If you bite it, it will bite your mouth right back,” said one participant.

However, after ripening to a jelly soft pulp or dried, the hachiya is equally delicious.

Shirley Salado, supervisor of the UC Cooperative Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in San Diego County, attended the persimmon field day to collect persimmons and information about the healthful fruit.

Shirley Salado, the UC Cooperative Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program supervisor in San Diego County, attended the persimmon tasting to gather fruit and information for her education program.

“The fuyu is great to eat,” Salado said. “When they ripen and become very soft, you can put the pulp in a blender and then freeze in zipper bags to add to healthy smoothies.”

Salado collected two large bags of persimmons to share with her nutrition education staff.

“Not everybody knows about these,” Salado said. “This gives them a chance to look at the fruit. This is what we promote.”

Jean Suan, right, plans to dry her persimmons using the traditional Japanese hoshigaki method, in which the whole fruit is peeled, as shown on the left, then hung on a string outdoors. For several weeks, the fruit is massaged every few days, until the sugars form a frost-like dust on the surface. The result is fruit with date-like texture and strong persimmon flavor.

Following the tour, coordinator of the UC Master Food Preserver program at SCREC Cinda Webb demonstrated safe consumption by making cinnamon persimmon jam, dried persimmon chips, and a gourmet persimmon, basil, beet and rice salad.

UC Master Food Preserver coordinator in Orange County Cinda Webb, right, and Master Food Preserver Mabel Alazard, make persimmon jam.
 
Cinda Webb adds persimmons to the salad. (Recipe below.)

Wild or brown rice persimmon salad

4 cups wild or brown rice, cooked
2 Fuyu persimmons, chopped
1 cup cooked, chopped beets
1 cup basic, chopped
8 oz feta cheese
½ cup orange cumin vinaigrette

Vinaigrette (makes about 1 cup)

½ cup orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1½ tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Whisk together vinaigrette dressing ingredients
  2. Stir basil, beets, persimmons and feta into rice and toss with ½ cup vinaigrette.
  3. Top with persimmon slices and extra chopped basil for presentation.
A member of the Rare Fruit Growers Association, Dewey Savage, showed a fuyu persimmon with browned flesh. The browning is caused by alcohol released by the seeds inside the fruit. The alcohol neutralizes tannins that make the persimmon astringent. The natural chemical reaction results in sweeter fruit.
 
UC Master Gardener volunteers prepared persimmons for the variety tasting.
 
 
Participants evaluated persimmon varieties based on attractiveness, astringency, sugar, flavor and overall performance.

 

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 8:02 AM

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