November 26, 2008 By now, most of us probably know that our modern day Thanksgiving feast isn't all that symbolic of the first Thanksgiving meal celebrated more than 400 years ago.
We have turkey, they had seafood. We devour mounds of potatoes, they didn't even know they existed. We salivate over cranberry relish and pumpkin pie, they didn't yet have the luxury of sugar. We pass bowls of colorful fresh vegetables like corn, they...well it wasn't totally foreign.
Corn is one of the few crops native to the Americas and most likely, either the natives or settlers had grown it that year. At the time of their first harvest feast, there was likely some drying out in the fields intended for livestock feed or maybe cornbread.
Fast forward to today and as we head to our respective Thanksgiving feasts tomorrow, there will still be some corn out in the fields ready for harvest but that's probably where the similarities end. I'd wager that of all those fruits of the land present 400 years ago, corn has become the most prominent. Just think of all its references in the last year alone. Between debates on the merit of ethanol to the rising cost of food, corn has been front and center, whether it deserves to be or not. That topic is probably best saved for another column, another time...
For farmers in these parts, the hubbub surrounding corn is rather easy to ignore considering they were blessed with nearly perfect growing conditions this year. They have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
As consumers, we can be grateful too. Whether we're talking about the field corn destined for corn syrup or sweet corn we eat off the cob or from the can, or any of the other abundant grains, fruits, vegetables and meat—we're blessed with an abundance of food. But I'm not telling you something you don't already know. As a community and society we're getting pretty good at sharing from our pantries. I think of that every time I head out to snap photos of boxes and boxes of canned goods that some Boy Scouts, a school or church has collected.
'Pay it forward' has become a popular catchphrase of late, but what better way to put your gratitude in action this holiday season.