Growing up in Memphis, in a regular city family, when we would give thanks, a myriad of things enters. We gave thanks for the people around the table and those who were far away, our abundance away from the table and what we had on the table Thanksgiving day and the rest of the year. We would always mention the hands that prepared the food but I have to admit, my food focus was one of taste more than anything.
To break out one piece would be hard but I want to focus on the food piece since it seems so often the focus of our day. But our thanks frequently is about the one little piece of the pie we have our eyes on daily. So until I got deep into agriculture through my communications work (it seems like deep cover at times LOL), I have to admit to celebrating many Thanksgivings without thinking of the path food takes to reach me. That’s what I want to do now for a bit.
I am suddenly flashing back to a school project where you had to trace every step to make a peanut butter sandwich… untwisting the tie on the loaf was the sort of detail people missed and I am sure I will be missing much more important people in the train of food but I’ll capture far more than I have most years at Thanksgiving so it’s the thought stream starter that counts!
Usually thanks is offered as food has gone on plates and forks are poised ready to go. So I’ll highlight some of the steps & people involved in getting that meal to my plate.
- Lots of cooks & people helping in food prep! I’ve been lucky enough to share Thanksgiving meals in many houses and even on a few continents! Just mentioning that travel connection means I will be writing another post! This year while it’s at one house, the potluck fun will be on again and I’m excited to offer up a fruit salad ambrosia my grandmom and mom have made a long time.
- Food stores or direct from a family farm! We have been lucky enough to have some food come directly to us from the farm on which it was produced in the last several years as my brother & sister-in-law have a small farm. Love that they can contribute directly food they have frozen, preserved, etc. But most of my family’s food comes from grocery stores. Grocery stores…. the place I spent my teenage years building a work ethic. At a grocery, so many people are involved! There are the folks who stock shelves, people who order food so we can get fresh veggies, the cashiers, the produce manager, a butcher, managers & assistant managers who keep bills & invoices moving so food keeps getting delivered and more!
- A distribution system that rocks! We have so many foods that people want here, there & everywhere! It takes a special supply chain management system to get things where they need to be and when so my mom can get fresh cranberries for the salad she always makes! That means logistics planners, computer folks, refrigeration peeps, truck drivers and more!
- Processing people! Okay, this is a big bucket with incredibly diverse peeps! For instance, those cranberries happen to be branded to Ocean Spray. The berries had to be cleaned, sorted & packaged. But the pineapple I need was processed more with people who work in the facilities on the line, chemists/researchers to figure out how to preserve it for me without taking an icky can taste to the juice, packaging designers/engineers, safety inspectors, etc. On the meat side, while some is done in a single location by professional butchers, others may have additional steps. I love that I can make choices on where to go and what to buy based on taste, price, production system or whatever!
- More distribution? I’m betting some goes through systems while I know some companies & brands contract directly to the farmer. For instance in the Delta, Uncle Ben’s had a very big presence as farmers delivered to them.
- Farmers & ranchers! That’s so much of my time and effort… raising awareness in the reality that whether its a pumpkin, sweet potatoes, sage for my corn bread dressing, the grand bird (or ham or lobster or prime rib), etc. that it started in a field somewhere. With people involved in planting, harvesting, caring for the crop, etc.
There are many other food thanks peeps I don’t know where to put in that timeline! Including:
- Creative geniuses who develop new recipes
- Nutritionists who help sculpt menus
- All the restaurant peeps from bus boys, waiters to chefs — special nod to the sommeliers!
- Meat scientists 😉
- Plant breeders
- Food technologists
- Food communicators — writers, TV folks, bloggers, etc.
- Vintners (got to get another wine nod in)
- Veternarians who work on farms
- Wordless Wednesday – Thanksgiving Tree of #foodthanks
- Giving Food Thanks & Thanking Some Farmers Too!
- Generations of Hands Working the Soil, Dirt or Clay
Far more food thanks blogs have been linked on this post on the Foundation’s website.
Some photos from last year’s incredible Thanksgiving with my family & extended family. Looking forward to tomorrow!