Last year I learned how important the farm bill was to the way this nation approaches the way we eat. Recently, I've been moved by various requests to have an organic vegetable garden on the White House Lawn. And in her post yesterday, Green Bean shows us how important it is to work for a reasonable Secretary of Agriculture. We need to make food a national issue, not just a personal one.
But the way this nation thinks about food and the way we eat is at some level private. And it is easy to get overwhelmed and start believing that our personal choices make very little difference. Our personal decisions will not solve all the world's problems. We are going to need the large-scale governmental decisions--symbolic as well as real--to truly make a more sustainable society.
The decisions we make in our personal lives may give us our strongest voice in the public world.
As Sharon Astyk points out, buying in to the idea that "private acts don't 'count' in the public sphere" takes away what may be our mightiest tool for change. She continues, "In isolation, buying local doesn't make much of a differnence." But when we join together, in our local communities and online, with neighbors and gardeners and farmers, we begin to create a new and better world. At a time of national crisis such as the one we are in now, the personal is political--and the political is deeply personal, as well.
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So let us commit to making some private decisions, and let us make them in ways that connect us with our communities. As we approach Thanksgiving, this season of gratitude for our nation's abundance, I am hoping you will all join me in sharing a local Thanksgiving feast. Here is a chance to make a personal decision that will directly affect our real-life local communities--and to make that decision in a way which also makes a public stand in the online world.
The best part is that this act will serve us spiritually as well, making us aware that we provide our gratitude not only to our families and friends and to God-or-Whatever-You-Believe--but also to the farmers who provide us with that abundance, and also to the seeds and soil and rain and the sunshine that made it grow.
Crunchy Chicken has issued an official challenge. As she says, "It's not too late to start thinking about your Thanksgiving meal and how to make it as sustainable as possible. The most effective thing to do is to focus on providing foods that are in season, local and organic."
Consumers Union and the Eat Well Guide have teamed up to help you find what you need for your local meal. Puget Sound Fresh is encouraging people to go local this Thanksgiving, as is Seattle Tilth. The Daily Green is talking about it, as is New York magazine. Even Emeril is getting into the act, featuring recipes and farms from the Mid-Atlantic.
So, if you plan to have a turkey as your centerpiece, now is the time to see what your options are. Can you find a local, heritage, free-range, or organic turkey? Or even just a bird in a locally-owned store if you don't have access to something local at this point? Think about what your family traditions are as well as what is available at this season in your area (or what you've put up previously)--then figure out a menu.
Personally, I'm going to miss cranberries, which we have not been able to source locally so far. I think a fig chutney should keep me pretty happy, though. Another change I'm going to make, I think, is to move from wheat-bread stuffing to cornbread stuffing, since we grew corn in our little backyard this year. Perhaps we'll mash those few little potatoes we harvested. Our garden just might produce enough greens, and at the farmer's market we can acquire those absolutely essential Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and apples. Our turkey will come from an Amish farmer from whom we regularly procure our milk and cheese.
Just planning a meal with local sources will make you grateful for the gift of your community.
Tell us about your Thanksgiving plans!