Tuesday, November 22, 2011

thanks giving: for the food we eat

Giving thanks for food was one of the first rituals I learned as a child.  Then, I didn't quite get the blessing, but that act of pausing before eating to give acknowledgement to the source of our food and ask for nourishment is something that has stayed with me over the years.

My thanks today is three-fold:  for the knowledge of healthy eating, for the access to truly nourishing foods, and for the food I am preparing as our Thanksgiving feast!  (and really, the food I prepare each day!)  And how those first two weigh in so heavily to depict the way our feast will look!

I often thank my mom for introducing me to a wide-array of foods growing up.  I ate lots of vegetables and rarely, if ever, did the kids have separate meals from the adults.  As I grow, my interests in healthy eating become further refined.  I learned about how animals were treated in factory farms, the hormones and antibiotics given to them more often than not, and quit meat all together for 4 years.  I learned how soil was depleted through massive conventional growing and became dedicated to buying produce that is organic and/or from small scale farms, (and hopefully local!).  I've learned how healthy, happy livestock play an integral role in a healthy environment, as well as a healthy mountain mama body, and I'm back on meat as long as I know where it comes from.  I learned about the intense sketchiness of Genetically Engineered crops that are suspected to be in 80% of all processed foods in most groceries stores of North America.  The query of "what to eat?" has become down-right mind boggling!

(I think that before I go on I should say that No, I am not a doctor, or a dietician, or a scientist for that matter.  I am just a human being trying to live in harmony with the Earth and eat food that is REAL, and healthy, FOR REAL.)

This level of healthy eating is more than just 5 servings of fruit or vegetables a day.  It demands diligence, label reading, and sometimes saying "no thanks".  But, boy, am I thankful for being in a community of learners and food-growers.  The knowledge of health, as in where does my food come from and how did it find it's way to the table, has deepened my connection to the Earth, my respect for farmers, and increases the sense of responsibility for my own health.

For me, knowing about healthy food does not afford the chance to turn my head and look the other way.  I just can't go through a fast-food joint and not be concerned.  In full disclosure, I have a hard time eating out at most restaurants these days.  When you think too hard about this stuff, it feels like you can't eat anything!  Thankfully though, we have access to local and organic produce, dairy and meats here in this town.  While what is doled out locally is largely dependent on the season, we do have a good health food store where I can buy organic and GMO free food.  And, I give thanks again for the Boone community.  In this town and within my circle I am not considered outrageous for the way our family eats.

So lastly, but surely not least, I am thankful for the food we will be eating on Thanksgiving day.  This is the first year I am preparing a whole Thanksgiving meal and I am so excited!  I'm mixing some typically traditional dishes with the creation of new traditions.  Our meal is primarily organic food, 100% fresh and homemade, as well as gluten-free, since Sly can't handle wheat in his Mama's milk.  If I pull it off, this will be my greatest cooking feat to date.  Wanna know what's cookin'?

::sweet & smoky spareribs (meat from the AppState Sustainable Development farm)
::a simple cornbread dressing
::mashed 'taters with mushroom gravy (arrowroot for the flour in the gravy)
::cider-spiked cranberry sauce
::brussel sprouts with red grapes and walnuts
::punkin' cheesecake with gf graham cracker crust
::chocolate pecan torte with almond crust

On top of all these goodies, friends and family will be bringing more eats to share.  Oh yes, we will be feasting!  I hope to infuse the spirit of thanks in our food as I cook!

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