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Thanksgiving

Cost of Wyoming Thanksgiving Dinner Up 15% From Last Year

in News/wyoming economy
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Make no mistake, Thanksgiving dinner is as affected by inflation as gasoline.

This year, consumers will pay almost 15% more for their holiday gathering than they did last year, according to various experts.

Farm Bureau Insurance reports the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving feast for 10 people this year will cost $53.31. While less than $10 per person, it is a 14% increase from last year’s average of $46.90.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey included turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk.

A spot survey of prices by Cowboy State Daily also revealed increases in the cost of the annual meal.

According to flyers from a Wyoming grocery store printed in 2020 and 2021, turkey prices have risen almost 10%. In 2020, the sale price of a turkey was 89 cents per pound — a figure that increased to 99 cents per pound this year.

The stuffing to accompany that turkey, meanwhile increased in price by more than 11% — from $1.50 per box in 2020 to $1.67 per box in 2021.

The cost of some items, such as canned cranberry sauce, canned yams, and 10-pounds bag of potatoes, stayed virtually the same, as did a store-bought pumpkin pie. 

But a jar of Heinz gravy doubled in price, from $2 per jar to $3.99, and the price of a tube of crescent rolls increased from $1.49 to $1.99.

“Several factors contributed to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Economist Veronica Nigh. “These include dramatic disruptions to the U.S. economy and supply chains over the last 20 months; inflationary pressure throughout the economy; difficulty in predicting demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and high global demand for food, particularly meat.” 

Nigh added that the trend of consumers cooking and eating at home more often due to the pandemic led to increased supermarket demand and higher retail food prices in 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.  

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Thanksgiving Lefovers: Be Careful What You Feed Your Dog

in News/dogs
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Now that Thanksgiving is over, if you are like many (like Dave Simpson), you have a lot of leftovers.

As dog-lovers (we like cats too), we wanted to remind you that — although it’s tempting to share your Thanksgiving feast with your doggo — it can also be dangerous for them.

To that end, we went to our friends at the American Kennel Club and the ASPCA to see what dogs can and cannot handle over the Thanksgiving holiday.

My veterinarian advises not giving them any special food at all. Her regular dog food is enough and she’ll be happy.

But if you can’t resist sharing your bounty, consider the following:

Do NOT let your dog have any of these foods:

Turkey bones, skin, and gravy
Stuffing
Casseroles
Mashed potatoes
Creamed peas
Chocolate, cookies, pies, and sweets (especially anything containing xylitol)
Alcoholic beverages
Raisins and grapes
Onions, scallions, and garlic
Ham
Yeast dough
Fatty foods
Foods containing spices

And it’s not because they are being a Scrooge (to mix holidays), it’s because there are unsafe and unhealthy ingredients in these food items.

What is safe to eat? The American Kennel Club lists the following:

Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Just remember not to give your pet sweet potatoes containing any added ingredients.

Potatoes. You get to enjoy both kinds of potatoes, and your dog can have that option, too. However, give only boiled or baked potatoes with no butter, sour cream, salt, or pepper, and serve in moderation.

Apples. Full of vitamins A and C and contain lots of great fiber, making them a healthy Thanksgiving treat for your pet. But be sure to cut around the core, as large amounts of apple seeds can be toxic.

Turkey meat (no bones, no skin). For those that wonder if dogs can eat turkey at Thanksgiving, the answer is yes. The main dish is okay to offer up as long as it has not been prepared with any seasoning. However, do not feed your dog any skin. The outer layer is likely to have been prepared with butter, spices, or other fatty ingredients that may cause pancreatitis or other issues for your dog.

Green beans. But the bean dish should be plain — without any added ingredients like butter or spices.

Plain peas are a fine choice, but creamed peas should be avoided. Fattier food items like this that may upset your dog’s stomach.

Pumpkin. Pumpkin helps with digestive health and it’s great for a dog’s skin and coat. Also, if feeding canned pumpkin, make sure it’s just pumpkin and not the pre-spiced pie mix.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Thanksgiving: How To Talk Nice

in Column/Mark Jenkins
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By Mark Jenkins, guest columnist

Thanksgiving dinner. Eating is over, pontificating begins.  Uncle Lou, drink in hand, is about to impart bizarre misinformation he found dropping down a rabbit hole.

He does this every Thanksgiving. His pomposity makes it appear, which is his unspoken intent, that every word coming out of his mouth is the truth. Style trumps substance with Uncle Lou, though. It’s all true just because he’s saying it.

Everyone is getting uncomfortable, unconsciously frowning, but thank God relief is on the way: dessert. Apple pie and ice cream and everyone’s smiling again.

So goes the trope, not the reality. A 2017 Harris poll found that 47% of Americans avoid discussing politics at all costs during the holidays.

If a heated debate erupts, 48% of people will try to change the subject, 43% will attempt to persuade everyone not to talk politics at the dinner table and 10% will just drink more.

Talking nice has become more difficult as our country has become more polarized.

People are listening less and shouting more. Most folks don’t enjoy confrontational conversations.

And yet, completely avoiding political discourse is not a path toward understanding, let alone compromise and mutual solutions. What to do? A little evolutionary psychology might help.

The human species in its current form, homo sapiens sapiens, has only been around for 300,000 years. For 99% of our existence, we have lived in small clans, 10-20 people.

Cooperation was paramount for survival. We had to get along and sharing the same belief system was fundamental. We are hardwired to be tribal.

Studies have found that we humans, because of our evolution as an extremely social animal, are afflicted with three cognitive shortcomings:

  1. Confirmation Bias: We tend to believe information, and the people that deliver it, when it confirms our own belief system. Conversely, we tend to ignore information (even if it is based on solid evidence) that contradicts our personal belief system.
  2. Motivated Reasoning: We accept what we want to believe with little self-questioning analysis, but scrutinize what we don’t want to believe, trying to find rationalizations for our own position.
  3. Cognitive Dissonance: humans struggle when trying to hold two opposing positions in their minds. This internal conflict is almost always resolved by siding with your tribe. Emotion, rather than evidence, underlies so many of our decisions.

Everyone from The Atlantic to the New York Times has written about how to have constructive political conversations. Here’s what I’ve learned, although I must admit I often don’t live up to these suggestions.

First, if you’re engaging in a political conversation in order to convince someone to change their minds, forget it.

This will only cause cognitive dissonance and push them deeper into their own worldview. People who are put on the defensive almost always double down on their convictions.

If you’re threatening their belief system, you’re threatening their tribe.

Don’t pre-judge what your fellow conversationalist will say. Enter the conversation with an open heart and a desire to listen. Listen, listen, listen.

If you don’t understand something, ask questions without inserting your opinion.

If something is said that you find untruthful, you have the obligation to say so, but how and when you say something matters. Rather than lunging instantly like a guard dog, let them finish their thought.

Then you can respond with something like, “From my perspective, I disagree with your position but I understand where you’re coming from.” If you’ve really been listening, you should know why they believe what they believe.

Then it’s your turn to speak. Explain your position clearly and humbly. Nobody likes a blowhard.

Being judgmental or condescending will inevitably enrage  your fellow human. Be respectful.

Being pedantic is petty, being educational is insulting and relying on personal attacks, rather than cogent, evidence-based argument, is undignified. Personally insulting someone is a sure way to end the discussion.

When the conversation gets heated, don’t throw up your hands and walk away. Instead, be aware of yourself. Know that your buttons are being pushed, recognize the anxiety it may be causing, and consciously remain calm.

Finally, search for where your ideas and their ideas can meet. Try to remember we are all in this together. We all live on the same planet and must share the same resources, drink the same water, breathe the same air. We must find common ground to co-exist.

Jenkins is a Resident Scholar Wyoming Humanities

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Wyoming Thanksgiving History: Wyoming Couldn’t Harvest Turkeys Until the 1950s

in News/Food
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Thanksgiving is arguably the best and most underrated holiday, largely because it’s completely centered around eating (and maybe your family too, sure).

To prepare for Thanksgiving this Thursday, we thought we would provide a few little-known facts about turkeys in Wyoming.

Hunters couldn’t legally harvest wild turkeys in the state until 1955.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the weird history with turkeys started in 1935, when the department swapped some sage grouse with New Mexico for a handful of Merriam turkeys, nine hens and six toms.

The turkeys were released on a ranch in Platte County in the spring of 1935 and reportedly lured some of the ranch’s domestic turkeys to join them on a trek into the Laramie Mountains.

The turkeys began to breed while still under the watch of ranchers and the Game and Fish department, with their numbers growing to more than 1,000 by 1947.

By the early 1950s, the turkeys were reintroduced into the Black Hills, again reproducing, which then led to the legalization of turkey hunting in 1955.

Wyoming now has a spring and fall season for turkey hunting. Fall turkey hunters are encouraged to wear orange or pink for safety reasons, but it should be noted that turkeys can spot these colors.

Newcastle area wildlife biologist and wild turkey researcher Joe Sandrini suggested hunters work on stealthy pursuit at middle to lower elevations as the season moves from fall to early winter.  

“When flocks are startled and busted up, the birds can often be called back as they seek to reunite. Doing this from a concealed location is an effective fall hunting technique that is used in many parts of the country,” he said. 

Compared to domestic turkeys, wild turkeys have less fat and consequently tend to be a little drier. A “cooking bag” can help the fowl retain its natural moisture.

When cooking, understand wild turkeys won’t stay on their backs like domestic birds, and may need to be propped up.

Thanksgiving guests will detect the longer legs and a proportionally smaller, more angular breast and a fuller flavor many people enjoy over the farmed bird. The taste is primarily the result of the bird’s diet, a buffet of goodies found in forests.

As spring approaches, the birds start inching up in elevation and flocks of adult males start disbanding. Around March, gobblers start establishing areas or “strutting grounds” along the edge of creek bottoms or forests.

Hens nest in the strutting ground vicinity and close to reliable water. The females lay about two eggs every three days until a clutch of 10 to 13 is produced. After about 28 days of incubation, with no help from the gobblers, the chicks meet the world.

Within a week the chicks start flying and roost in trees thereafter. Hens and their brood, often joined by like combos, stay together until the next breeding season.

Last fall, 1,791 hunters put 1,193 Wyoming turkeys on tables.

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Wyoming Ranks 42nd Nationwide In Thanksgiving Misery Index

in Thanksgiving
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This is one of those surveys where coming in near the bottom is a good thing.

The so-called Thanksgiving Misery Index is out and Wyoming is doing pretty good.

The Estately company does research to help citizens compare towns, cities, and states in an effort to help them decide where to live.

The company analyzed six different category to come up with the misery index:

  1. Likelihood of a family food poisoning episode.  To get this, they looked at Center for Disease Control’s stats on the most cases of salmonella per capita derived from poultry over the past five years.
  2. Likelihood of relatives getting drunk and making a scene.  To get this information, they went back to the CDC to examine the prevalence of binge drinking among adults per capita.
  3. Likelihood of political arguments.  States with the most even split between Democrat and Republican voters.
  4. Dietary restrictions impacting meal quality.  Back to the CDC to get the highest rates of diabetes and they went to Facebook to determine the highest percentage of vegetarians and vegans.
  5. Likelihood of favorite NFL team losing on Thanksgiving.  They looked at the losing percentage for Thanksgiving Day games of residents’ favorite teams.  
  6. Likelihood of guests/cooks abandoning meal to shop at a Black Friday sale.  They used Facebook data here to determine the percentage of Facebook users expressing interest in Black Friday sales.

Sure, there are issues with the “study” but it’s fun to look at.  Here’s where Wyoming ranked in each category:

Salmonella cases per capita from poultry.  Wyoming ranked 16th.

Binge drinking.  Shockingly, Wyoming ranked 32nd.

Contentious politics.  We’ve been called the reddest state in the nation. In this study, we’re not quite the reddest. Utah and West Virginia come in at 49 and 50. We’re 48.

We’re also 48th in dietary restrictions.

As for NFL team losing percentage on Thanksgiving, which doesn’t make any sense because Michigan is 14th. The Lions are in Detroit.  This one is a head-scratcher.

As for the enthusiasm factor for Black Friday sales, it’s nice to see we are near the bottom again coming in at 37.

Who scored the worst? Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Wisconsin were the top five.

It doesn’t appear as though any state came in first in more than one category. Although West Virginia pulled an impressive first place in salmonella, second place in NFL teams losing, and third place for Black Friday enthusiasm.

Does this study mean much?  No. Is it interesting. It’s more interesting than a Detroit Lions game.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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