My outlook on food, vegetarianism, and how precious it all is
My parents divorced when I was very young and every year until I was about 11years old, we split our holidays between the two. We would spend Thanksgiving with my father and Christmas with my mother. Wanting to make the holiday that we spent apart special, instead of doing the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes dinner that we would have at my father's house, my mom would have us pick the foods we are most thankful for. This of course has changed over the years from pizza and ice cream sundaes to dinner for breakfast or really delicious cheeses and wines. This excuse to celebrate what we were most thankful for is what makes me love this holiday so much. I have continued it and now do the foods we're most thankful for on the Tuesday leading up to Thanksgiving with Chris and Keenie.
This year I am also thinking about how precious food really is. As an identified pescatarian/vegetarian, I have a very weird take on the way I look at food. Serving in the Peace Corps in Guatemala and Americorps in Alaska, I saw my fair share of food scarcity, not only in the most impoverished places, but in our own backyards. Food has since become something to be treasured, loved, and shared. I cannot tell you how many home-visits I would make in Guate and be given the last tortilla a family had, because it was something for them to give. So while I do not cook or eat meat (seriously, I have no clue how to cook it... it terrifies me- think of all the germs!) I would never in 1000000 years use my vegetarianism as a reason to not eat something that was prepared for me. Because think about it; when food is offered to you, the person has gone out of their way to purchase it, prepare it, and then wants to share it. In a world where connection is scarce and food is many times a luxury, I cannot in good conscious, turn down this opportunity to share in something bigger than myself.
So the food that I am most thankful for and want to share with you all is homemade baked butternut squash mac and cheese, roasted artichokes, and pumpkin ricotta cheesecake with ginger snap cookie crust. I was particularly excited to partner with
Hungry Harvest to make this dinner because of their delicious produce and organic add ons (like the eggs!). I love this company because it not only wants to end hunger by donating food to SNAP farmers markets and holding food drives year round, it is working tirelessly to stop our food waste in this country. Did you know America wastes 40% of its food before it even hits our grocery store shelves?? That is 20 BILLION POUNDS of produce that gets tossed because it is either too small, oddly shaped, or has blemishes. Hungry Harvest is working to end that. Four years ago a senior at the University of Maryland (go terps!) worked with 30 families to see if a food delivery model would work. There have been ups and downs in this company's history but they have successfully grown out of the DC and Baltimore market and can deliver now in Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, Delaware, South Florida, the research triangle in North Carolina (Go Duke!!), and lastly Detroit. They have saved over FOUR MILLION pounds of produce through their program. THEY ARE AMAZING and I am so glad we found them in DC.
If you are not able to access Hungry Harvest where you live, please consider donating your leftovers to homeless shelters or making smaller portions to cut back on the amount that goes uneaten. Buying foods from your local farmers market, co-op, or organic options at your grocery store. All of these things do so much to cut down on what is being used to grow, harvest, and sale the products.
I hope you all have an amazingly safe thanksgiving and find something extra special to be thankful forever got lots of holiday tips and tricks on how to be sustainable this holiday season coming up, so be on the look out for those! As always #livejoyful