I am fortunate to live in a place where fresh food is right around the corner. A produce stand no more than 3 minutes drive from our house sells freshly harvested corn on the cob and, between late spring and early autumn, we drive 10 minutes up the road after work or on the weekend to a U-Pick farm and pick the wide range of seasonal vegetables and fruits they have available. Peas, strawberries, beans, squash, peppers, sweet potato, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, rhubarb… our plates are swimming in selection and colour, and the produce is fresh and quite simply delicious. The little bit of extra work associated with picking the produce is more than compensated for by the quality time spent with family and the significant savings. What would cost $50 in the grocery store costs $5 or maybe $10 at the U-Pick.
On weekends, when we have more time, we might drive to a produce and baked goods stand run by an Amish family who live about 20 minutes away. There, we can buy just about anything, including eggs that are truly farm fresh, or we’ll visit one or more of the several farmers’ markets within a 5 to 30 minute drive of our house. When possible, we’ll buy cheese directly from the dairy that made it, and meat from a local butcher. In winter, or when we want milk or yogurt or the packaged foods in which we guiltily indulge, the grocery store is available to us. We also have the occasional option of eating out in restaurants when an exhausting day leaves us too fatigued for cooking. There are vast warehouses of food in major cities not far away, with food shipped in by truck or barge.
Food is all around me and so, too, is the incredible waste associated with my continent. I know that so many parts of the world face drought and famine, and food is not available; or food is available but poverty makes it inaccessible. I know that there are people in my own neighbourhood and community who cannot afford food and manage to eat only by the charity of others.
That is why, today, I am thankful for food. I am thankful for the independent farmers who commit themselves to backbreaking labour to put food on my plate. And I am thankful for living in a place with temperate climate and a good balance of sun and rain, allowing a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables to grow. Most of all, I am thankful for being able to afford food.