Kresge Library News: Found on the Web Archives
November 23, 2011
Wild Turkey Chase - Researching Thanksgiving Trivia
With the annual food festival of over-eating known as Thanksgiving fast approaching, the weekly trip to the grocery store was an even bigger event than usual. The store was packed with people despite the home football game and packed with food, especially turkey. An entire range of open freezer shelving, plus an end refrigerator shelf in the local Meijer were bursting with turkeys, the main course for many on Thanksgiving.
All of this poultry got me to wondering about where all of these turkeys come from? Why do they pump them full of an 8% solution of water, salt and spices? How many turkeys actually get cooked on a typical Thanksgiving day? How the turkeys feel about all of this? And why am I doing all of this shopping, planning and cooking again? So I did what any good librarian would do, I went out in search of some answers. I felt pretty confident that I could answer the first 3 with no problem. The turkeys' and my own psychology question were going to be a bit tougher.
Following my first instinct, I did a crappy Google search. I love starting my research with a crappy Google search! Even if I don't find the answer, it usually sets me on the path to where the answer can be found. Oh what did we do before Google?!? (That is a story for another day, but I assure you it wasn't pretty.)
A search for 'number of turkeys sold thanksgiving' without the quotes, brought back "About 482,000 results" which in my mind is too many to deal with or even comprehend. So, I tried again with quotes and got only 4 links, all from 1990. So it looks like less is more in this case; less strict search = more, but better results. Definitely NOT what I learned in Library School.
The first result from Infoplease.com had my answer - "According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving". I like this answer. They gave me a source and a link to it (well, not to the actual page where the answer came from, but at least they got me pointed in the right direction). Most other people would be satisfied with that answer, but not me. I need to see the data for myself, so I took a trip over to the USDA to see what I could find knowing full well it may take a while to track it down. I am about to enter the labyrinth of US government data bureaucracy on the Internet. I hope I am back in time to start cooking that turkey!
A quick search of the USDA site for 'turkey' leads me off to the Turkeys Raised page of the USDA's Economics, Statistics, and Market Information National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), a subdivision of the USDA (talk about your bureaucracy labyrinth!). The US produced 248 million turkeys this year, up 2 percent from 2010. Six states produce two-thirds of the turkeys: Minnesota tops the list with 46.5 million; North Carolina and Arkansas tie for second with 30 million each; Missouri - 18 million; Virginia - 17.5 million; Indiana - 16 million. Now I know where the turkeys come from! But I still don't know where Infoplease.com got their number, so it's back to USDA page to search.
But first a detour. This happens a lot when you start researching something mildly interesting. The NASS page stated that this was an archive and that the official website was elsewhere, so I had to follow. At the main NASS page I found that I could browse by topic, so I worked my way down the subject headings to Livestock and Animals > Animals & Products > Poultry > Turkeys. Wow! Who knew that there was so much data on turkeys (and other livestock). I can find out production measured in dollars per pound, measured in dollars, measured in head. I can also get counts by type of bird, fryers or roasters. I can see how many were slaughtered, condemned, or lost to death. I can also count how many of the condemned had things like bruises, tuberculosis and tumors. I can make spreadsheets and see charts and graphs. I can see that in 2010 3.6 billion pounds of turkey were produced with a value of 4.4 billion dollars. I can see that there are just over 500 million pounds of turkey in Cold Storage Stocks. I could have a data field day! But I still don't have that illusive consumption number for Turkey Day.
I also decided to take a look at the Overview of the U.S. Turkey Industry. Unfortunately, the report was from 2007, so I decided to try the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry category. Here I found a link to the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook which then led me to the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry:Tables and something labeled "Quarterly red meat, poultry, and egg supply and disappearance and per capita disappearance". I couldn't let that one pass, especially since there was a spreadsheet for turkey disappearance. I could not imagine what they were talking about. Where were the turkeys disappearing to? Were they being abducted by aliens, turning into zombies, or just walking off the farm?
Well, the spreadsheet was no help, but it did give some interesting numbers: 5,082,000,000 pounds of turkey disappeared in 2010. But to where? Well, it appears that it disappeared into people's stomachs. According the to Documentation for the Food Availability Data System,
ERS's food availability data are often referred to as food disappearance data because the data represent the resulting food supply after food "disappears" into the food marketing system. ERS calculates the residual of a commodity’s total annual available supply after subtracting measurable uses, such as farm inputs (feed and seed), exports, ending stocks, and industrial uses. The annual data series includes per capita food availability estimates, which are useful for studying food consumption trends because they are a proxy for actual food intake.
Ok, so I know where the turkeys disappeared to and I know how many pounds disappeared, but I don't have a head count. I can sort of put the numbers together by looking at the data for the number of turkeys slaughtered in September and October (20,437,000 and 23,264,000 respectively) which I would hope would be the only ones in the stores for sale during the Thanksgiving season. But at this point, I think that I am done with the USDA. I could either call their turkey expert and ask where that number came from, or I could head on over to the National Turkey Federation and see what data they have for me.
The National Turkey Federation is "the national advocate for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its members' products by protecting and enhancing their ability to profitably provide wholesome, high-quality, nutritious products." About NTF. They have all sorts of industry information and a slide show on turkey production (I'm not too sure I want to watch that). They also have a Turkey Facts & Trivia page, which is where I headed for some Turkey Stats. While this page has a lot of info on how much turkey is consumed, where it is produced and who the largest producers are, it did not give me a number for turkeys eaten on Thanksgiving, which I think was my original quest.
So it was back to the Trivia section to try out the Turkey History & Trivia page. And indeed, I did find an answer. The National Turkey Federation estimates that 46 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas, and 19 million at Easter. With two pretty reliable sources providing a similar answer, I can say with confidence that about 45 million turkeys are cooked for Thanksgiving. At this point, I had to make myself stop researching. I know there is so much more information that I could find which will lead to more questions, which leads to more research, but I have to get cooking!
The National Turkey Federation also has tips for consumers about what to do with the 5 billion pounds of turkey they eat every year (that is 16.4 pounds per person), including some tips on how to deep fry your turkey. As long as no one is taking lessons from William Shatner on frying their turkey, I think we can all have a safe and happy turkey-filled holiday.
As for me and the turkeys, I am pretty sure about how we feel about the whole affair. The turkeys definitely think the whole thing is a bad idea and that we should focus on something else, like chicken or broccoli. Now that my shopping is done, I remembered why I was doing this again, so I can spend 3 entire days cooking food that will be gobbled up in about 20 minutes. At least I won't have to do the dishes!
August 19, 2010
New website for Economist Intelligence Unit
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has launched a new website which provides easier access to a wealth of economic information. This is the first of several updates planned for the upcoming year.
From the new homepage, you can jump directly to specific reports or content on your country of choice. Individual country pages provide at-a-glance analysis data, ratings, reports, and key indicators. A new sidebar on article pages links out to related content.
If you have questions about the new EIU site or run into difficulty accessing EIU content, please feel free to contact us using the form or chat box on our homepage.
March 02, 2010
Business Information for Michigan Residents
On the Kresge Library Wiki, we created a page that highlights useful business resources available for Michigan Residents. Besides freely available news sites, this wiki page includes links to business and article databases from the Michigan Electronic Library, which are available to all residents of the state of Michigan.
February 19, 2010
Financial Soundness Indicators
Those exploring international markets may be interested in the Financial Soundness Indicators, available from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). FSIs include earnings, profitability, and liquidity of deposit-taking institutions, return on equity in the nonfinancial corporate sector, and household debt to GDP, among many others. Investors can use FSIs to evaluate the health and stability of a country’s financial systems and identify countries that are better for investing in new businesses.
January 22, 2010
Access to Governmental Datasets at data.gov
Thanks to the Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative, hundreds of datasets from various governmental agencies are now available for free at http://www.data.gov. The release of these datasets marks a significant step towards open access and government transparency. Among the represented agencies are the departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, and Health and Human Services.
The site currently offers three data catalogs. The Raw Data Catalog contains downloadable datasets in XML, CSV, and other machine readable formats. The Tool Catalog links out to agency-specific tools or websites for datamining. The Geodata Catalog includes geospacial datasets with additional Federal Geographic Data Committee metadata. Each of these catalogs has a keyword search function; reports can also be filtered by agency or subject area.
Michigan-specific datasets are also available on the official state website.
May 05, 2009
BlogLESS: business ethics and design
BlogLESS is produced by Design Less Better, a small design firm that focuses on the ethics of design and business. BlogLESS has frequent blog posts about what it means to create ethical designs, working with clients, and producing branding, advertising, and corporate websites.
By broaching the topic of the ethics of design, i.e., truthful, transparent design for advertising, websites, etc., BlogLESS by necessity discusses business ethics, and by extension, corporate social responsibility.
Check out their posts tagged with business, for example, to read some interesting thoughts on topics from PR, to presentation slides, to socially progressive brands, to selling without selling out. A quick scan of their browse page's tag cloud displays a wealth of content on advertising and branding, as well as topics on the more technical aspects of design and creating content for the web.
April 13, 2009
Wharton Professor Examines "Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet"
Of late, we've been posting a lot about eMarketer reports that project ever-increasing online advertising budgets as consumers move further and further away from print publications. But what if online advertising doesn't work?
Eric Clemons, Operations and Information Management faculty at The Wharton School, claims just that in a recent TechCrunch guest column.
The column has generated a lot of heated debate in the comments section. What do you think?
April 09, 2009
KLD Indexes releases March 2009 index return report
Download the report (PDF).
Interested in financial news and sustainable investing? KLD also publishes a blog.
March 26, 2009
Regulations.gov indexes federal regulations and agency documents
Regulations.gov is a one-stop resource for U.S. federal regulation information for a wide variety of government agencies, such as the EPA, DOT, NHTSA, and FDA. Users can narrow searches by government agency, document or docket type, comment period, and other criteria. RSS and email updates are also available. This is a great resource for research on emerging legal and regulatory topics like hybrid technologies, environmental issues, and biotech development.
March 24, 2009
UK Carbon Trust provides free tools and reports on carbon footprint issues
Carbon Trust is a UK-based organization seeking to help businesses move to a low-carbon economy. In addition to general information about global warming, low-carbon technology, and related topics, users can register to download free case studies and reports.
March 12, 2009
InflationData.com provides current and historical inflation data
InflationData.com provides up-to-date inflation information based on the Consumer Price Index of Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
- The Annual Inflation Rate Chart, which is handy for spotting inflation trends
- The Historical Consumer Price Index, which includes data back to 1913
- Charts and tables of recent Gasoline Price Inflation and Inflation-Adjusted Oil Prices since 1947
InflationData.com is freely available online.
March 09, 2009
Copyright law and information access in Africa
The African Copyright and Access to Knowledge Project (ACA2K) is bringing together researchers from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda, to study the relationship between national copyright policies and information access in those countries.
ACA2K is funded by Canada's International Development Research Center's Acacia Initiative and the South African Shuttleworth Foundation's Intellectual Property Rights programme.
To learn more, subscribe to the international Copyright and A2K Issues listserv.
March 06, 2009
YouTube launches download option for some videos
YouTube is testing a new service that allows users to download some videos in MP4 format, sometimes for a fee paid through Google Checkout. Higher education institutions and government projects, like President Obama's weekly video address, are the largest participants so far.
The download option ("Download this video") is presented in a small link just below videos that have been opted into the program.
March 05, 2009
IFPI releases Digital Music Report for 2009
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI) has released their 2009 Digital Music Report on the state of digital technology in the music industry. While the report finds that the industry has succeeded in changing its business models, its biggest challenge is still illegal music downloads.
April 03, 2008
MarketingCharts.com,is a great free web site that provides all kinds of charts related to marketing, advertising and publishing. Data is gathered from a variety of sources, such as Neilsen, Forrester, eMarketer and Hitwise, and turned into easy to read charts focused primarily on the online advertising world.
A core set of 'Top 10' charts, most of which are updated monthly, cover online retailing, advertising spending by medium and industry. The data for these charts is available for download into Excel. Some of these core charts include:
The site also includes articles about newly released marketing research in the major media categories of television, print, radio, direct, interactive, and outdoor.
February 05, 2008
A Great Place for Advertising: YouTube
There are a number of resources that you can use to view advertisements. One of the resources that is definitely worth checking out is YouTube (it is not just for stupid stunts anymore)!
From the New York Times
For Marketing, the Most Valuable Player Might Be YouTube
By STUART ELLIOTT
Published: February 5, 2008
The Internet, digital video recorders, mobile devices and other technologies are giving a strong postgame presence to the annual roster of Super Bowl commercials.
With more and more advertising available via YouTube and other resources, it is easier than ever to find and use advertising in your research.
The trick is getting the file so you can use it on your desktop when you are not connected to the Internet. Getting a file from YouTube has been tricky. But there is a great web application that you can use to grab YouTube videos and convert them to MP4 files.
Called YouTube to iPod and PSP Converter, this small program will download and convert YouTube videos into an MP4 file format among others. Good for your iPod, your PowerPoint Presentation or for working offline. This is from DVDVIDEOSOFT.COM and is free.
For students and faculty at the Ross School of Business, there is also Adforum. This database provides access to over 35,000 advertisements in all media. The focus is international. The database has audio and video capability. The source also provides access to news and other information relating to the advertising industry, including agency information. Be sure to log off as directed on the password sign on screen.
November 05, 2007
Business Week Company Insight Center
Business Week, along with Capital IQ, has created a new resource on their site called Company Insight Center.
This free resource provides basic company information, stock price charts, earnings reports & estimates and a wealth of people information for 42,000 public companies in the U.S. and abroad and 320,000 private companies, including executive compensation. Of course, the private company data is a bit more limited. You can easily see who is on a company's board and the connections that person has to other boards. You also get to see the BusinessWeek rankings for a company, including the BusinessWeek 50, the InfoTech 100, and the Innovation 25.
Some nice charting features are included on the site, such as a company comparison on stock price, events and competitors. The one thing that is missing is the ability to download this data from the site.
The search features on the site are limited to a basic keyword search or company name browse.
June 12, 2006
Presidential Speeches online
Need some inspiration for an upcoming speaking engagement? The Presidential Speech Audio and Text Archive from the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs Scripps Library & Multimedia Archive may have the answer. This archive site has the text (an often audio) of some of the most important presidential speeches of the past 60 years. Also included are speeches of presidents from the 18th & 19th centuries, such as Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.