It‘s far too easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives and take so much for granted. The holiday season offers us the perfect opportunity to reflect and give thanks…and the Dirt to Dinner team is eager to do just that. And, boy, do we have a lot on our list to feel grateful for! Here are a few things that us team members will be giving thanks for this year as we celebrate with our family and friends.
Every day, we take for granted that we can just walk into a grocery store and pick out exactly what we want to eat. Do we want chicken, beef, or tofu for dinner? All year, we can drink coconut water, count on fresh strawberries, and be assured of 20 different types of coffee. This is thanks to the entire supply chain: from farmers, farm workers, food processors, truck drivers, food companies, to our local grocery store and its employees who stock the shelves so we can find precisely what is on our shopping list, no matter the time of year.
Lucy is Thankful for the Grocery Store
In the ‘60s, my sisters and I knew exactly where our food came from. There was a very small market called Waytonka in our Minnesota town. It had wooden floors, ceiling fans, the butcher in the back, and penny candy in the front. Aside from the candy, we ate what was local: milk and eggs were delivered to the back door by Meyer Brothers Dairy, ‘Your Lake Minnetonka Neighbor’.
In Minnesota, canned vegetables were a winter staple. As a result, our parents had a large vegetable garden and our job was to plant, grow and harvest. A lot of our childhood was spent on a small family farm while our parents traveled. We would help feed the hogs, milk the cows, and ride horses. If we wanted chicken for dinner, we went to the barn, found a plump one, cut off its head, plucked it and got it ready for the oven.
Today, I am thankful for the grocery store. Though the days of trotting out to the barn are memories that will last a lifetime, I am thankful for human ingenuity that enables me to pick up my hemp hearts to put on my Greek yogurt, buy Norwegian salmon to have for dinner, and yes, boneless skinless chicken breasts that are ready to be grilled, from a store less than 5 miles down the road.
…And Concern for the Earth
I am thankful that people are starting to ask questions about our food and changing the industry for the better. Questions like ‘is the food grown sustainably?” or “are the animals treated with compassion?” and “how transparent is the company or farm to the consumer?” quickly come to mind. I am thankful that we have new technologies like smart sensors, big data, and precision farming that address these issues. Today, with new businesses like Herddogg and iDecisionSciences, and websites like Crowd Cow and McDonalds, people are learning how their food is grown.
Hayley is Thankful for Healthy Foods
I am thankful for the healing power of foods. There is no question that what we choose to eat affects our health, and researchers have provided an abundance of studies proving just that. For instance, studies have shown that foods like blueberries, broccoli, avocado and chia seeds can help reduce inflammation to combat chronic illnesses.
Of particular interest to my family and me is diet related to brain health. My grandmother battled Alzheimer’s and dementia for years, but because she adhered to the MIND diet later in life, we are confident that it brought her more years with us. And for that, we are grateful. The diet has been found to slow and potentially reverse the effects of dementia, and is something I’m already trying to implement into my daily life.
Along the lines of healthful foods, our industry is constantly creating food innovations that provide us with nutrient-rich products. Two products that quickly come to mind are Tagatose, an alternative sweetener with micronutrients, and genetically-modified Golden Rice, which has the potential to save thousands of lives.
One last consideration is plant breeding technologies as a means of healthful foods. With food technologies like GMO, CRISPR, and synthetic biology, we cannot overlook how genetic engineering can increase the healthfulness of our foods.
I am excited about the prospects of genetic engineering to make our food healthier, more nutritious, and sustainable.
Hillary is Thankful for Choices
Before joining Dirt to Dinner, I thought I knew what “organic” meant and what GMO technology is, especially as a self-proclaimed “foodie”. But over two years later, I can say without hesitance that I knew very little about our food system and that I now choose to not be scared into buying particular products based on misinformation.
No other circumstance brought this into light for me than the birth of my daughter last September. Prior to her arrival, we were a family of three – my husband, our four-year-old son, and me. Adding a fourth into our family excited all of us, but her birth brought much fear as complications arose during delivery, leading to her immediate transfer to a large hospital via ambulance.
In her following weeks of recovery in the neonatal ICU, I was visited by nutritionists, lactation consultants, and other certified pediatric and maternity professionals. I was alarmed at the variance of information when it came to my diet as a nursing mom. My favorite recommendation was “eat non-GMO oatmeal every morning for good milk production”…as if there’s a GMO version of oats???
When I finally focused on what was best for my baby girl and me, my choices became much easier…as they were backed by science.
It’s wonderful to see options of organic and conventional produce at our market, but what matters most to me is that I buy fresh foods that will provide my family with the most nutrients. My go-to is conventional produce, but if the organic raspberries look better, or the store only has Pink Lady apples grown organically, I’m happy to get those. But it’s amazing to have a choice – and to choose healthy. Because of these choices, my one-year-old daughter is happy and thriving. And I’m grateful to always be learning more about our food system.
Garland is Thankful for Perspective
One of the benefits that comes with growing older is a richer sense of perspective on things. Despite all the problems that we deal with every day, and the clatter of so many angry and questioning voices around us from so many directions, the bigger picture starts to come into a lot sharper focus. Now don’t get me wrong…I still see all the challenges and issues that confront our modern food system. I grow annoyed and sometimes angry at the lack of vision and understanding that gets in the way of using science and technology intelligently and responsibly to solve all those problems, and more.
But when I sit with my family and celebrate the incredible bounty that nature makes available to us, all the usual worries and frustration give way to something a good deal more optimistic about the food future. I’m thankful for the people who are working every day to make that system work better.
The men and women pioneering new and better ways of growing crops and animals sustainably and in line with the values that define us all as a society.
The scientists and engineers developing technologies to deliver safer, more wholesome food, and more varieties and with greater abundance for us all. The field workers and merchants and plant workers and food technicians and dietitians and researchers and logistics experts and countless others who make an incredibly complex supply chain work, and work well, on a global scale.
You’ve made food plentiful, available and more affordable than ever before, and that is no small accomplishment. Thanks to you, as I sit at the Thanksgiving table this year, I can celebrate not just the bounty on the table before the four generations of the West family seated around me. I can sleep well this night no doubt having eaten far too much, and talked and laughed and remembered far more than I probably ever have before. I can be thankful because I have faith that our food system will rise to whatever challenge is put before it. That future West generations will have the ability to enjoy what I’m enjoying today.
Now if you could only help me figure out a way to do something about the belly that seems to grow larger every year…
D2D is Thankful for our Dinner Plates
The Dirt to Dinner team is thankful for each and every piece of food on our plates and the journey it took to get there. While we all eat multiple times a day, we rarely stop and think about just how it got there. We take this convenience for granted and expect it without question every time we go food shopping.
But this way of thinking often causes distance from the growers and producers – creating a food disconnect. It is not anyone’s fault by any means; it is simply far too easy to overlook the time, resources and love that goes into growing the food that sustains us. So now we can take the time to be thankful for all the men and women who are a part of our global food system.
From the seeds cultivated over hundreds of years to produce our crops, to the farmers who plant and plan and harvest, to the animals providing our nutrition, for the packers at the processing plants who prepare the food for our purchase, to the drivers who take the food to the store, and the grocery staff who helps to close the supply chain loop for us…we thank you all this Thanksgiving for your hard work and dedication to our health.
The Bottom Line
We are grateful to those who grow and prepare our food, from the dirt to our dinner tables, and that we can share our gratitude here on our website. We are thankful for our readers who continue to inspire us every day to ask the questions, get the answers, and seek the truth and the science. Thank you for your support over the last four years!