Science Supersizes Thanksgiving

Our fare is not the same as the pilgrims'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2008 2:45 PM CST
Potatoes today are much starchier than their predecessors, because the starch makes them easier to fry, writes Alexis Madrigal for Wired.   (©foodistablog)
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(Newser) – Thanksgiving food has undergone massive genetic changes in the centuries since the Pilgrims first prepared the feast, resulting in turkeys more than twice as big and corn six times as sweet. But human taste buds have evolved, too, meaning we don’t necessarily appreciate our new and improved fare any more than our ancestors did, writes Alexis Madrigal for Wired.

“Human-directed evolution has generated animals and plants that share little more than a name with their wild or pre-industrial farm-domesticated relatives,” Madrigal writes. Thanks to agriculture companies “hacking” DNA, food has been tweaked to the whims of consumers (more breast meat, medium-kernel corn) and retailers (longer-lasting veggies, easier-to-fry potatoes). Though some changes are “tremendous scientific accomplishments,” historians argue that the distinctive flavor of some foods has been lost.