Turkey Time

I’m still full.

We had an early Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s been nearly 24 hours, and I am still full. The practice of over-stuffing our gullets became a short but worthwhile topic of conversation with our fellow eaters last night, wondering why such an American tradition revolves around eating so much we feel like we literally will explode.

This day is meant to be a feast, a day to break bread and enjoy the fruits of our labor.  However, our labor does not so much revolve around producing those fruits.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency fewer than 1 percent of the 285 million Americans claim farming as their occupation. That number has declined sharply from 1935 figures, which show more than 18 percent of the American population as farmers. Clearly, we are not spending much time in the fields these days. Yet we still eat like we were plowing and tilling and harvesting.

There’s a restaurant near our house whose theme is the American farm. Its breakfasts are named to reflect the hard labor exerted by certain farm workers and what sort of food is needed to sustain that work, such as “Light Chore Day”—two eggs any style with a side of potatoes and a side of either toast, biscuit or pancake—or the more calorie-laden “The Hired Man’s Breakfast”—two eggs any style, a choice of meat, plus the aforementioned side dishes of potatoes and bread product. Then there are other goodies like the “Pork Producer’s Breakfast,” laden with pork products, eggs and the side choices, and the “Cattleman’s Breakfast,” which comes with your choice of steak from 7 oz. to 16 oz., plus eggs and sides. The list goes on and on.

You probably will have guessed by now that the people eating these breakfasts are not farmers.

We have trained our bodies to take in enormous amounts of foods that we don’t need to sustain us. And I’m not even going to go into the kind of food that enters our system, because that’s too much to deal with in one sitting. It seems, though, that our Thanksgiving “feasts” are no more a break from normalcy than rush-hour traffic.

Perhaps when we sit around to Thanksgiving dinner and acknowledge what we are “thankful” for, is that our bodies are not static and our bellies will not explode.

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