Thanksgiving week

We’ll be taking some time off from farm work, as my mother and brother are due to arrive in a few hours to stay through the week. Other than some necessary chores to prepare for the deep cold arriving Wednesday through Friday, it will be a change in pace for us. I don’t intend to update the blog through this period, as I figure most others are also preparing for and enjoying the holiday, and am happy to focus my attention inward for now.

Thanksgiving is the most important and meaningful of all the year’s holidays for us, being centered as it is on a celebration of independence and sustenance. We’ll be enjoying sharing the farm with family, and putting together a wonderful spread of food reflecting the year’s efforts on the farm. May you all enjoy the week as much as we intend to.

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving week

  1. I just found your blog and I'm so interested in what you do. I recently read this article in Newsweek — http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/22/what-food-says-about-class-in-america.html#And I curious about your take. You seem to advocate Americans spending more on organic foods, so we can have a free-market food system. But how to the very poor afford that? I agree that corn subsidies are enormously wasteful and when it comes down to it they are killing Americans through obesity. Is there any politically viable way to shift those subsidies to legumes and other healthy, environmentally sustainable crops?

  2. Janae,Thanks for commenting and linking that article, which was lengthy and well-balanced. I'd like to respond to your question in more detail than a return comment will allow, so please stay tuned for something within a week or so as I can get to it (I have several other things in the pipeline first). A quick response: (a) Sometimes being poor means you can't afford things and have to do without. We are not poor, but we do live on a very narrow budget and have given up many things others consider necessities in order to make our finances work. While it would be nice for everyone to have enough money to do what they wanted, there are economic realities that will always push in the other direction.(b) Many truly poor people do make those hard choices, such as the folks who regularly buy from us at market using EBT (food stamps), despite our prices being about the highest there, and who are presumably making other sacrifices to afford that choice. The Newsweek article also profiled similar folks. When I drive through poor sections of urban or rural areas and see run-down houses festooned with satellite dishes, I know that many people still have choices. (c) In many places, at many points in history, the "poor person's" diet ends up being healthier and more balanced than the "rich" diet. Consider a basic balanced diet of beans, rice, and vegetables with occasional or small amounts of meat. That's pretty manageable on a tiny budget, but it does take more work than fast/processed food. Simply look at the burgeoning health problems in some developing countries as their populations shift from a more grains & vegetables diet to an increasingly meaty and processed-foods diet which is not balanced by extra physical activity. The driving factor there is not purchasing power, but rather innate desire (esp. a taste for sugar & fat) and prestige (esp. associated with meat).(d) Those who want to change their diet need to be willing/able to spend some time cooking or finding sources of food, even to the extent of possibly gardening or working part time on a farm. Look at what Britain and the US did with their Victory Gardens during both World Wars. I know there are situations in which people have absolutely no access to fresh foods or farms, but there are also programs in most cities that involve urban garden plots and so on. It's a sad irony that at the same time we have rampant unemployment in inner-city food deserts, we have burgeoning small farms with a large labor shortage because their budgets are too narrow and because labor laws forbid businesses from using volunteer labor. We also have massive angst over illegal immigrant labor. We could be paying the unemployed urban poor for that work, but that won't happen for a number of reasons. You might see my earlier post, Why Americans won't do farm labor for a similar set of arguments regarding immigrant farm labor.(e) Regarding subsidies, the last thing we should do is subsidize small farms as well. We've had ever-increasing subsidy programs for commodity farms for several generations now, and any drive through derelict rural small towns will show you how well that's worked out for farm communities. Subsidies just don't work the way people hope they will, and are incredibly inefficient.