Being grateful is good for you

Interesting article in the Times about how being grateful is actually good for you.  Not all that surprising in that there’s long been plenty of evidence that having a more positive outlook on life is physically healthy.   I suppose the Thanksgiving Day slant is to focus on the actual gratitude element.  Anyway, the key paragraph:

Thanksgiving may be the holiday from hell for nutritionists, and it produces plenty of war stories for psychiatrists dealing with drunken family meltdowns. But it has recently become the favorite feast of psychologists studying the consequences of giving thanks. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, includingromantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, which helps explain why so many brothers-in-law survive Thanksgiving without serious injury.

Makes sense to me.  I like to think I have an “attitude of gratitude” and I am no doubt a healthy person with little anxiety or depression who is satisfied with my life.  I think I’m reasonalbly kind, too.

If I ate turkey for Thanksgiving

I don’t eat turkey because I find it incredibly bland, and thus pointless, as a meat option.  If I did eat turkey, I’d pay the extra money for one of the new “heritage” birds, that are apparently all the rage:

For about half a century, nearly every turkey farm in the U.S. had been raising a breed known as the Broad Breasted White. (This cost-efficient, big-breasted bird has a lifespan of only 18 weeks and can neither fly, nor reproduce without artificial insemination). So when the ALBC went looking for other, older breeds of turkey, what they found was startling: They counted only 1,300 turkeys not bred for industrial purposes. In the whole country…

Fast forward to today, when “they have literally bred all of the turkey out of the turkey,” says Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures, the largest USDA-certified organic farm in the state of Georgia. Harris raises American Standard Bronze turkeys, one of eight varieties identified by the ALBC as heritage breed turkeys—or birds descended from a continuous gene pool dating back to before the rise of the Broad Breasted White. Heritage birds can still mate naturally, and have a long outdoor lifespan and slow growth rate.  Industrial turkeys, on the other hand, said Harris, “are satisfied to sit in one place and eat and defecate.”

And they taste like it.  And you know what else– they don’t even have sex.  In fact, they are only incapable of reproduction via artificial insemination.  Via Freakonomics on Marketplace:

Dubner: My family, the same. Now some people would say that’s just because you want to increase the surface area for gravy. But whatever the case, Americans love their white meat. And this goes back to the 1950s, when traditional turkeys got pushed out by a breed called the broad-breasted white, which grows bigger and faster than the traditional bird. And that broad-breasted white has been selectively bred to have the largest breasts possible.

There’s just one problem with this and I’m going to let Julie Long from the USDA explain it to you.

Julie Long: The modern turkey has quite large turkey breasts, and it actually physically gets in the way when the male and the female try to create offspring.

Ryssdal: Create offspring. Come on, really? Did she just say that? So it gets in the way, I guess.

Worst part?  It’s somebody’s job to “secure the contribution” of the male turkey.  I hope they are well compensated.

On a happier note, since it is Thanksgiving, I’ll give a non-random lists of things I’m thankful for:

  1. My family
  2. My job
  3. The fact that intelligent and interesting people actually find my musings worth reading and engaging with.  Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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