With Thanksgiving just around the corner, have you ever wondered why turkey is the meal of choice for most Canadians? It wasn’t always this way. In fact, turkey was almost never served at the first Thanksgiving feast.
The first Thanksgiving feast was more of a potluck affair with Native Americans bringing venison and the Pilgrims bringing whatever they could scrounge up, which wasn’t much.
In Canada, the first Thanksgiving feast was held in 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew held a celebratory meal after their successful journey to find the Northwest Passage.
The wild turkey’s in Canada were quite different from the domesticated turkeys we have today. They were much smaller, leaner and had dark meat. The first domesticated turkeys were brought to Canada by the early European settlers in the late 1800s. These turkeys were larger, had white meat and were better suited for eating.
The turkey quickly became a popular dish at Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations due to its large size and delicious taste. Likewise, turkey gradually became more popular in the United States, although it wasn’t the main dish at Thanksgiving until Abraham Lincoln declared it so in 1863.
There are a few theories as to why this tradition stuck. Sarah Josepha Hale is best remembered as the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” She was also an early editor of Ladies’ Home Journal and an important voice in the campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. And she really, really loved turkey. In 1827, she wrote a novel called Northwood: A Tale of New England.
In the book, Hale described a traditional Thanksgiving feast that included roasted turkey. She also wrote articles and editorials extolling the virtues of turkey as the perfect holiday meal. And she wasn’t the only one. Other writers and poets of the day also started singing the praises of turkey at Thanksgiving.
At the time, the bird was seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. They were also large enough to feed a large group of people, which was important for a holiday like Thanksgiving that was all about giving thanks with family and friends.
Some believe that turkey became the Thanksgiving food because it is seen as a healthy alternative to red meat. Turkey is a good source of protein and is low in saturated fat. It also contains the amino acid Tryptophan that can help to boost your mood.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body needs to create serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. This means that eating turkey can help to improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. It can also help to regulate your sleep cycle, which is why you might find yourself feeling extra sleepy after eating a big Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey also contains a number of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. These include zinc, potassium, and selenium. Turkey is also a good source of B vitamins, which are important for keeping your energy levels up. In addition, turkey is a good source of iron, which is necessary for carrying oxygen around the body.
Slowly but surely, the tradition caught on until turkey became the de facto meal of Thanksgiving. Turkey is the perfect food for Thanksgiving because it is affordable, easy to prepare, and packed full of nutrients that are good for your health.
So next time you sit down to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal, remember to give thanks to the humble turkey or maybe Sarah Josepha Hale!
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that turkey is a big part of Canadian Thanksgiving tradition and it happens to be a big part of the McLean Meats line-up of all natural, nitrite free and organic deli meats.
If you’re not up for whipping up the big traditional feast this year, consider substituting with McLean turkey products like making a BLT with our best selling Turkey Bacon or tossing our savoury Turkey Smokies into a pasta dish.