You might be wondering what science has to do with Thanksgiving. Its only complexity should involve family feuds and kitchen disasters, right? Have we got news for you: there are myths to be shattered about this most American of holidays, including the alleged soporific effects of turkey and the assumption that gratitude has nothing to do with good health.

Our in-depth report on the science of Thanksgiving tackles those and other questions you may be mulling as you prep Tom in your oven. Don’t you want to know what makes the meat on your plate white or dark? The reason is all in the family – the family of turkey genetics, that is. And can you eat turkey without becoming drowsy? We’ve got the answer.

You may well consider sparing the purebred bird you bought from the supermarket and making practical, culinary use of the wild turkeys that are running around your backyard, driving down the value of your property and scaring the children. Before you do, take a listen to animal behaviorist Rich Buchholz, who explains that selectively bred birds taste much better, namely because of their “gargantuan breast tissue.”

Phew. Well, now that you’re so grateful to have avoided serving wild turkey, you probably don’t know what to do with yourself. We’re betting you’ll hit the gym: turns out, being grateful may make you exercise more. And that can only be a good thing after you dig into that turkey feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

Image of turkey by iStockphoto/Jill Chen