Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Being Thankful for My Food

I'm not gearing up for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I won't be staying up late to bake that last pie or getting up early to start the slow-roast of an enormous bird with an abnormally-large breast.

On Monday, with only three days to go until the holiday, I called the farm where I had ordered a turkey, but I found out that the poults had succumbed to blackhead disease. We won't be getting a turkey.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that it doesn't make sense to have a turkey. I mean, the whole idea of raising an animal for the sole purpose of celebrating, what really is, a rather meaningless holiday seems a little ... wasteful.

For most of Americans, Thanksgiving is about eating ... and watching football. It's not about celebrating a successful harvest. It's not about celebrating anything, really. In fact, how many of us really have any idea of the true history of this day?

Other than the food (and the Macy's Day parade) what is it that we're doing, that we're celebrating, that we're honoring? Certainly not the turkey. When we can buy a full-grown turkey for $20 at the grocery store, we're not thinking much about the life that was sacrificed so that we could gorge ourselves.

It's not even, really, about being thankful. Oh, we may offer some token, "I'm thankful for ...", but at the end of the day, it's all about stuffing ourselves so full that we have to pop the top button of our pants and take a nap on the couch.

In the end, it's all about the food, with the sacrificial turkey front and center.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with eating, I don't have a problem with eating animals, and I don't have a problem with raising animals for meat. In fact, we raise rabbits, which we eat, and we raise chickens, which feed us for half the year. We bought a quarter of a pig that was raised by a local farmer, and we've ordered a quarter of a cow (raised by a different local farmer). We've even got some moose and some deer in the freezer.

The difference is that these animals did not give their lives under the pretense of some great and sacred celebratory feast. These animals' lives were taken to sustain mine, and I am thankful to them for their ultimate sacrifice.

We won't be having turkey this Thanksgiving.

Instead, we are going to have a true harvest dinner celebration, and we will have a feast, but it will consist, entirely (with the exception of some spices and things like flour and sugar), of foods we harvested or that were harvested in Maine by local farmers or fishermen.

I'm (finally!) going to have my smoked rabbit, and I'm so looking forward to it.

We're also going to have lobster, which is "in-season" right now (with Maine shrimp season right around the corner :).

Potatoes will definitely be on the menu, but I may deviate from the traditional mashed with gravy and have roasted potatoes instead, because my family really likes them roasted.

We all like cranberry sauce, which I've made with local cranberries, and it's delicious.

I haven't thought of what else we might have, but we have apples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, cabbage, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and pickles - all locally harvested, and certainly something will be made using some or most of those items. And, believe it or not, my unprotected lettuce bed is still producing. So, salad may be on the menu, too.

If this day is truly about being thankful for the food, and thankful for the bountiful harvest, then I will celebrate it by giving thanks for the farmers and fishermen in my local area who work so hard, who sacrifice and (often) struggle just to make a living wage so that my family can eat. These guys aren't corporate conglomerates with CEOs who drive lamborghinis. If they're lucky, they have an old farm truck, that probably needs repairs.

None of them will be millionaires ... ever. They might earn enough money to send their kids to college, but more likely than not, their kids will grow up, and inherit the farm.

But every day, rain or shine, they're out there in the muck and mud, making sure I can eat.

Tomorrow, I will give thanks for my local farmers and fishermen, and the Earth that has been so generous to my family in this past year.

Oh, the Earth is good to me,
and so I thank the Earth
for giving me the things I need,
the sun,
and the rain,
and the appleseed.
The Earth is good to me.

1 comment:

  1. I am thankful that might family is going to be around a table for more than a couple of days in a row. For that we will celebrate a tradtitional Thanksgiving. But fortunately, mostly local, and not all prepared by me;)