After a long career as a science writer, textbook author, and genetic counselor, I've become an accidental authority on squashes.
I began volunteering at the largest food pantry in my small city in June 2020, where my husband Larry had been in charge of the plant and fungal kingdoms for years. It was the height of the pandemic. So gloved and masked, we shoved fruits and veggies into plastic bags, filled shopping carts with the bags, and wheeled them over to a window at which another masked, gloved volunteer quickly pushed the bags to the clients waiting outside.
Like most activities back then without human contact, it wasn't much fun.
Nowadays, Larry and I help the clients choose fruits and veggies, and I share cooking and storage tips as well as recipes. I love the challenge of figuring out how to prepare something unfamiliar – plantains, Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli rabe.
My favorite client is a 95-year-old Ukrainian woman. I know which days she'll show up with her helper, so I assemble bags of bountiful beets so she can make borsht for her congregation. Schenectady has a large Guyanese community, and the ladies with whom I share tips and recipes call me "mommy." I tell our Black clients how to make stuffed cabbage; they share how to cook collards.
But I'm still a biologist at heart. Here at DNA Science a few years ago, I shared The Peaceable Genomes of Pumpkins.
For this year's Thanksgiving post, I came upon an article, Genomic Prediction and Selection for Fruit Traits in Winter Squash, published in G3: Genes, Genomes, and Genetics, from Michael R Mazourek of Cornell University and colleagues, from 2020.
To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.