Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving

Picture of a wild turkey in Zion National Park

Jon Sullivan of pdphoto.org took this picture of a wild turkey in Zion National Park, Utah.

According to Wired.com, the average turkey has gone from 13 pounds in 1929 to 29 pounds in 2007 and the trend is continuing upward. In another 50 years you will need a roasting pan the size of a bathtub to cook your turkey. Good luck getting that in and out of the oven.

The same story goes on to say that corn today is probably 6 times sweeter than the corn the Pilgrims ate at the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim’s corn was about 10% sugar and sweet corn today is 20 to 25%. The corn the Pilgrims ate is comparable to the corn we grow today for animal feed.

There is a 15 acre field behind my house that is planted in livestock feed corn every other year. The other year it is planted in soybeans. I have never tried to eat any of it. The corn was harvested about two weeks ago, so I can’t try an ear now, but maybe in two years, as a scientific experiment, I will try one and let you know what I think.

Apparently the Pilgrims didn’t have potatoes at the first Thanksgiving, but if they did, they would have been rounder, higher in sugar and have less starch than the potatoes of today. The increased starch and less sugar of present day potatoes make better potato chips and french fries. The Wired article, “Give Thanks? Science Supersized Your Turkey Dinner” was written by Alexis Madrigal.

Here is a link to an article by Karen Ravn in the Los Angeles Times called “How Turkeys Grew So Big.” She explains how turkeys today came to be all white instead of brown, black and other colors, like the wild turkeys that you may see roaming around your neighborhood. I often see small groups of 5 or 6 turkeys walking around where I live in Washington County, New York. There go some now. Just kidding.

Kimberly Crandell has an article called, “Did Science Build a Better Turkey“, on Livescience.com. She writes about an alternative to the standard white turkey that we normally eat today. It’s called a Heritage Turkey. She says that there were about 8,800  Heritage Turkeys in a 2006 U.S. census. Compare that to the 267 million turkeys that are sold in the United States each year.

She also explains how the “super turkeys” of today came to be. The “super turkeys” aren’t so super. Their large breasts cause problems walking and reproducing. Forget about leaping tall buildings with a single bound. They can’t even leap over the the turkey coop.

President Abraham Lincoln, on October 3, 1863, proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. You can read the entire proclamation here on the National Park Service website. The proclamation was actually written by Secretary of State, William Seward. You can read about that here.

Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article about the Pilgrims that we associate with the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Most of the story is about how they got to the New World and not about Thanksgiving, but did you know that Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Hefner and George W. Bush are all descendants of the Pilgrims from the Mayflower? I didn’t.

You can take a turkey quiz here at Discovery.com. Did you know that wild turkeys can fly as fast as 55 miles per hour for short distances?

Here is a link to a story about the first Thanksgiving on History.com. Apparently the Pilgrims didn’t have forks. Who knew? They used knives, spoons and their fingers instead.

When I sit down to dinner on Thanksgiving, regardless of where I am, I will take a moment and think about all of the people that I have shared this day with over the years. If someone asks me on Thanksgiving, what am I thankful for, I will say I am thankful for them.

Many old and familiar faces will no longer be sitting around the table. Some of them have not been there for many years. They will always be remembered because they will always live in my heart.

I will also remember, and thank, the wonderful people, past and present, who have always cooked up a storm so that I could have a wonderful feast on Thanksgiving.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please pass the whipped cream. Pumpkin Pie

How Much Vitamin C Is Enough?

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published the results of a study called “Vitamins E and C in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Men.” The study lasted eight years and    14,641 male doctors over the age of 50 participated. They were divided into four groups and given either 400 I.U. of vitamin E every other day and 500 mg of vitamin C daily, vitamin C only, vitamin E only or just a placebo. Here is the link to an abstract of the study on the Journal of the American Medical Association website. It is the November 12, 2008 issue.  Oranges contain vitamin C

The study concluded that, “In this large, long-term trial of male physicians, neither vitamin E nor vitamin C supplementation reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events.” In CNN’s story about the study the headline is, “Taking vitamins won’t    prevent heart disease, studies say.” The headline in the New York Times said, “Vitamins seen as no help in heart disease.” I think it would be more accurate to say that this particular amount of vitamin C did not appear to have any effect on cardiovascular disease. I think it will also, unfortunately, discourage some people from taking these vitamins.

The headlines jumped out at me because I have heart disease and I have been reading about ascorbic acid (vitamin C) over the past several days. In everything I have read, much larger doses of vitamin C are recommended. Perhaps the study failed because they didn’t use enough Vitamin C. Would they get the same result if they had used 5000 mg of vitamin C?

Linus Pauling, a famous American scientist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954. He believed that ascorbic acid was important in preventing and treating the common cold, heart disease and cancer. He recommended 6,000 to 18,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 3,000 to 6,000 mg of Lysine a day for cardiovascular health. (Linus Pauling was also responsible for the banning of nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere and he was awarded the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his work).

Irwin Stone, in his article, “The Genetic Disease, Hypoascorbemia“, said that he was taking 3 to 5 grams of ascorbic acid daily for 10 years ( 1 gram = 1000 mg). He said that this was his estimate of what an adult human liver should be producing under unstressed conditions. He took 20 to 40 grams a day after being injured in a bad car accident.  In another article, “On the Genetic Etiology of Scurvy“, Stone suggests that 5,000 to 15,000 mg of ascorbic acid may be optimal based on studies of rats and how much ascorbic acid they make in a day. More scientific studies need to be done to determine just how much ascorbic acid other mammals, closer in size to humans, create.

Here is some other information about vitamin C that I found on the web.

Human beings lost the ability to manufacture ascorbic acid in their bodies around 60 million years ago due to a genetic mutation. Guinea pigs, certain types of monkeys and a fruit eating bat in India, can’t produce their own ascorbic acid either. That is why guinea pigs are sometimes used in ascorbic acid research.  Most other mammals, including goats, can manufacture their own vitamin C and, in times of stress, they can increase how much they make. A goat can produce 13000 mg of ascorbic acid per day.
The lack of one enzyme in the liver, L-gulonolactone oxidase, prevents humans from creating their own ascorbic acid.

Irwin Stone had this to say in his article “On the Genetic Etiology of Scurvy”,

“The whole field of the therapeutic use of ascorbic acid in many diseases other than scurvy is now dismissed because of the confusing and conflicting clinical results in the thousands of papers published in the last thirty years. The application of these genetic concepts to this vast medical literature brings a measure of order out of the chaos. Most of the clinical investigators reporting in these papers were trained to think of ascorbic acid as “vitamin C” and hence they treated these other clinical entities as if they were scurvy, giving only vitamin-like dosages of mg. per day and they reported poor or indifferent clinical results.

A few other workers fortuitously using ascorbic acid in doses of many gm. (grams) per day were the ones who were able to report clinical success and even dramatic cures. Unknowingly, these investigators had used ascorbic acid closer to the range occurring in mammalian synthesis and thereby had overcome the hypoascorbemia in their patients. In this manner they maintained physiological responses at optimal levels and were able to take advantage of many of ascorbic acid’s unique therapeutic properties. We have been engaged in the preparation of a comprehensive and critical review of the clinical work on the therapeutic use of ascorbic acid in diseases other than scurvy during the past three decades (Stone, in preparation). The results of this survey, to date, support the above thesis.”

Scurvy is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. If not treated, it is fatal. It has been estimated that 2 million sailors died from scurvy between 1500 and 1800. The British Navy began carrying lemons and limes on its ships around 1795 and their sailors stopped dying from scurvy. It’s interesting to me because I don’t recall learning about scurvy while studying the great explorers in grammar school.

Limes were used to prevent scurvy onboard sailing ships

It doesn’t take much vitamin C to prevent the symptoms of scurvy. Our food today is much fresher and varied than what sailors ate on board ships in the 1700’s and most people get enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy from the normal food that they eat. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 60 mg. Linus Pauling, Irwin Stone and others believed that this was not enough for optimum health. They based their beliefs in part because of the amounts produced by animals that can produce their own ascorbic acid. It’s too bad that the latest study was based on only 400 mg of vitamin C.

I have started taking vitamin C and Lysine as recommended by Pauling. Last week I started taking 8,000 mg of vitamin C and 3,000 mg of Lysine a day. After researching this post, I am going to increase that to 10,000 mg of vitamin C and 5,000 of Lysine and see what happens.

Your comments are welcome.

We Are Taking Back Our Country


That was the headline on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, in newspapers across America.

Just before the Democratic National Convention in 2004, my sister Judy told me that Barack Obama was going to give the keynote speech. I said, “who the hell is Barack Obama?” or something like that. Didn’t you, when you first heard his name? I thought that his speech at the convention was very good. He is an excellent speaker.

Fast forward to the Democratic debates earlier this year. Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and John Edwards were on the same stage. I liked what Dennis Kucinich had to say.  Congressman Kucinich was the only one who had the guts to present a resolution in Congress to impeach  Bush and Cheney. More congressmen should have supported him. I thought Joe Biden was very good in the debates too.

Then it was just Hillary and Barack. I thought that Barack was a better speaker, but I liked Hillary’s healthcare plan better. I chose to support Barack, although I would have voted for Hillary if she had been nominated. I didn’t like the fact that we would have gone from four years of George H. W. Bush to eight good years of Bill Clinton to eight disastrous years of George W. Bush to at least another four years of Hillary Clinton. Why should two families have all the fun?

There is no way I would have voted for McCain under any circumstances. I think he and Sarah Palin ran an ugly, dirty little campaign. He kept pestering Obama about not admitting that the “surge” was working. I have never heard McCain admit that the war was a shameful waste, didn’t need to be fought and was based on lies.

Barack was an easy choice. I liked what he had to say and he inspired people. I kept hearing about his speech against the Iraq war. I looked it up and read it. I thought it was an extraordinary speech. He hit the nail on the head. Take five minutes and read it or watch it from the link above. It’s too bad he wasn’t a United States Senator at the time. More people might have paid attention.

I was born into a world where African-Americans in America, especially the southern states, were denied the right to vote. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that something was finally done about it. I am so glad that we have made so much progress since then. We are not a color blind country yet, but we have come a long way. This election testifies to that.

It was amazing to see all of the huge celebrations going on in the United States and around the world on election night. I especially liked the celebration outside of the White House gates. I saw Jesse Jackson and Oprah crying tears of joy in Chicago.

Let the cynical Republicans go read their Wall Street Journals. I wish Barack and Joe Biden  the best.

We are taking back our country. January 20, 2009 can’t get here fast enough for me.

Your comments are welcome.

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