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.

Rutabaga for Me, Rutabaga for You

I’m learning to try new things now that I’m living in the Midwest. The latest new thing is the rutabaga.rutabaga1

I’ve been inspired to do it. And, it’s sitting in my fridge, waiting. Waiting for me to cut it up and throw it in a stew. I am so excited. I am anticipating a whole new taste, a whole new world of rutabaganess coming my way. I really don’t know what to expect, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.

Everyone’s Planet

This phrase keeps circling back into my consciousness weeks, even months after I read it on my friend’s blog. Poor people don’t care about the environment.

I don’t know who should care more about it than poor people, because as our climate changes they will be the most deeply affected.

Last fall I participated, rather tangentially, in a campaign called the Real Food Challenge, which aimed to get college students across the country involved in eating and promoting healthy, sustainable food on campuses. On my campus, a group of students set up a table for a few hours during the mid-day rush hour between the library and the student union and gave away local apples and organic, fair trade chocolate.

I was in charge of giving out chocolate, not a difficult job by any means. But, as I urged one passing student to head over to the apple table for some free samples, we got into a conversation about eating organic. She was a mom, as am I, and she told me she just couldn’t afford to buy organic. I started telling her about the many benefits of organic food, and how, in the long run, it is actually cost effective to eat organic, when you think of long-term health and environmental benefits—especially if the food is also locally grown.

In this society that does little to create a safety net for the less privileged, organic and real food provides a little bit of string to help bind this net. The healthier one eats, technically speaking, the healthier one will be. You are what you eat, as it goes. And, what we eat as a whole contributes to the health of our planet, which we all share.

As climate change accellerates, and we start to feel its effects, those of us who have less will be more compromised. Those of us in relatively wealthy situations will be able to continue to afford shelter, food, medical attention, and whatever else any impending crisis will force us to face.

I recall one of the most simple ways to reduce energy use, and therefore help out the environment, is to unplug your cell phone charger when it is not in use. It doesn’t matter what your socio-economic status is to be able to complete this simple task.

I realize that there are more pressing issues than the environment on many people’s minds—especially when they are working several jobs and concerned about how to pay their bills. But it is important to remember that there could be no bills to pay at all if climate change has as devastating an effect as many scientists are warning it will. Keeping the big picture in mind while continuing to think about the smaller things in life can help ease the effects of climate change.

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