| By Rachel Monique Maskell
Something fresh for you to chew on
Happy Turkey Day! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Despite it’s potentially unsavory beginnings, I love that we have a day in the calendar devoted to giving thanks, eating a lot of food, and sharing it with friends and family. At least this is my wish for you.
And in honor of all the food we Americans like to consume on this day, I thought I’d give you something else to chew on...some fresh facts you can share around the dinner table.
So here we go ranging in topics but covering areas I believe we can all be grateful for.
- Women’s Suffrage: Next year we will be celebrating our 100th anniversary of the success of the women’s suffrage movement in the US. Just writing this brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. But researching dates I also learned that 2015 was the first time women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote. I know it’s different culturally than here in the States, but my heart goes out to those who are tired of the patriarchal oppression that has been running the world into the ground since its inception. No, patriarchy wasn’t heaven sent, it was established just like any other societal structure. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage
- Plastic eating mushrooms: I’ve always believed that mushrooms will save the planet. And if you haven’t heard yet, one of the biggest environmental issues affecting us today, plastic, is consumed by a rare species of mushroom from the Amazon rainforest. Pestalotiopsis microspora consumes polyurethane, the key ingredient in plastic products, and converts it to organic matter. Not that we should make more of a mess for them to clean up, but it’s nice to know that Mother Nature will outlast us all. http://yupthatexists.com/pestalotiopsis-microspora-plastic-eating-mushroom/ https://www.dezeen.com/2018/09/25/state-of-the-worlds-fungi-report-mushrooms-eat-plastic-kew-gardens/
- Shoes: The necessity of shoes means they have been around since at least 1600-1200 BC. But did you know that prior to 1830, there was no difference between right and left shoes? https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-shoes-1992405
- Fire: The timeline ranges but about 1 million years ago ‘man’ began to control fire. As their knowledge and confidence in using this tool grew, differentiation of societal roles may have developed separating cooking task groups from hunting task groups. Was this the beginning of men in the field and women in the kitchen? Not sure I’m so grateful about that part but happy we’ve learned how to use fire for our survival! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_of_fire_by_early_humans
- Airplanes: We’ve all heard the Wright Brothers invented flying but this is not the whole truth. They actually invented the creation of a three-axis control system, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. And their first airplane engine was actually built by their employee Charlie Taylor, ever heard his name before?! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers
- Telephone: That classic children’s toy with two tin cans connected by a thread is actually the beginning of the development of the telephone. Sound waves can be carried through a cable or a string and harnessed into sound with a bowl shaped container, kinda like our ears. Simple beginnings with now very profound implications. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention_of_the_telephone
- Handwashing and sanitization: The man who first discovered the importance of handwashing never got the recognition he deserved. Despite saving lives, the doctors were not quick to change and even ridiculed him for his ‘discovery.’ By 1865, when he was only 47 years old, Ignaz Semmelweis was committed to a mental asylum. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/01/12/375663920/the-doctor-who-championed-hand-washing-and-saved-women-s-lives
- Sewing machine: In 1755 Charles Fredrick Wiesenthal, a German-born engineer, was awarded the first British patent for a mechanical device to aid the art of sewing. Although his namesake is familiar to most of us, Isaac Merritt Singer was not the original inventor. He was though an incredible marketer spending a million dollars a year on advertising during the 1850s. http://www.moah.org/virtual/sewing.html
- Electricity: Was it ever really invented? More accurate to say is we have learned how to harness it’s powers just like we have with fire. Many people are attributed to this gradual understanding and applications of it today, but Thales of Miletus was the first scientist to recognize the existence of electric power in nature in 600 BC. https://readanddigest.com/who-invented-electricity/
- Chocolate: fermented chocolate drinks date back as far as the 450 BC but it wasn’t until 1847 the first chocolate bar was invented. Joseph Fry & Sons found a way to combine the cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar and make it into a moldable form. They then displayed it for eating in Bingley Hall, Birmingham, England. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_chocolate https://www.chocolateuniversityonline.com/the-history-of-chocolate-bars/
- Art: the oldest piece of art ever found dates back to 33,000 AD. This discovery shares that we have been using art as a form of self expression and communication since the beginning of human history. In our modern world we often view art as a fun pastime or a good investment, but in light of its longevity perhaps it’s time for a re-elevated position. https://www.ancienthistorylists.com/pre-history/top-10-oldest-art-ever-discovered/
- Mother Earth: she is by far the greatest gift to us all. No facts needed here. We all live within her arms as she continues to embrace us and provide sustenance, keeping humanity alive and growing. In what ways can we share our gratitude for her unyielding commitment to life?
There are many many more topics and things I am grateful for, and I’m sure you are too. But I hope this list gets you started and may even help to initiate a conversation or getting the banter flowing.
Big love and have a fabulous day.