(Turkey farm, Effie, MN, 1932. Photo courtesy of the MN Historical Society)
|The turkey industry|
|Elements of Thanksgiving meals|
|Thanksgiving and the Environment|
The methodological approach I have chosen for my project is an interpretative analysis of interviews, historical documents, and scholarly and non-scholarly research. There are a myriad of approaches I could have taken to this project; I’m not sure that my methodological approach is the “best” one, but it is the one that I chose and tried to incorporate.
I have found that there has been some scholarly work done on Thanksgiving as a holiday, as well as scholarly work on food traditions. Less research has been done that solely focuses on the food of Thanksgiving, however, and because of my interest in exploring the intersection of food and culture, I thought that an interpretative analysis would be a good method to use.
I felt that it would be important to address the food of Thanksgiving through social, cultural, and ecological critiques. Due to this approach I researched the cultural and social history of the Thanksgiving holiday. To incorporate the more direct ecological component, I interviewed a local turkey farmer (Craig Holden) and also did research on the turkey industry, specifically in Minnesota.
In terms of focus and depth, I had certain ideas in mind, but they were partly dictated by what I was and was not able to find in my research and interviews. I had considered, for instance, providing an analysis of alternative celebrations of Thanksgiving (i.e., vegetarians, Native Americans, other immigrant groups). In an effort to contain my project, however, I decided to largely explore the dominant approach to Thanksgiving, that being the traditional family get-together with turkey, potatoes and the rest. I think that it would have been quite interesting to explore some of the alternative celebrations of Thanksgiving; but I simply felt it was not within the scope of my project. The methodological approach that I used allowed me to analyze the literature available and make my own conclusions from what I read. This methodological approach means that I am putting my own spin on the holiday, and that the perspective that I take may differ from others.
As expected in any research project, I faced some difficulties and I was not able to accomplish everything I set out to do. To begin with, I was hoping to find more scholarly sources that addressed cultural and symbolic meanings of holiday food, specifically Thanksgiving. Later on in my project, I began to think that it might have been a good idea to conduct a survey on St. Olaf students and the food of the Thanksgiving holiday. I faced some difficulties with interviews, just in terms of scheduling difficulties. Much of my free time is in the evenings and on Sunday, inconvenient times to call and conduct interviews.
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