This weekend in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving (Oct12-14). It is essentially a harvest celebration, giving thanks for the gifts from nature.
In the northern hemisphere, north of the 49th parallel, winter can come at any time now. So unlike our American cousins to the south, we don’t wait until the end of November for our turkey day feast. The harvest is in, no sense letting all that good food go to waste!
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is marked by a huge feast, usually with a roasted turkey and all the trimmings as the featured offering. Family and friends gather together to give thanks for the many gifts nature has bestowed.
Few countries celebrate Thanksgiving but many cultures have a harvest celebration. It is a time of gratitude. Cultures that live close to nature and rely on nature’s bounty to survive truly understand this concept. Harvest festivals are a time for the whole village to come together and enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Today in north America few of us really understand what it is like to be totally self-reliant for our own food supply. Lots of us grow gardens or hunt for our meat but if the garden fails or you are unable to bag a deer for the deep freeze, there is always the superstore in town to supply what you need.
The obligation to gather and store large quantities of food in the fall in order to endure the harshness of winter has all but vanished. Now gardening and hunting are hobby and sport. For the vast majority, the preserving of food is an activity done for pride and personal enjoyment not because it is a necessity.
Odds are, most of the food that will grace your table this Thanksgiving weekend has come for the supermarket, some already pre-made, some brought in from other countries who may have never heard of Thanksgiving day. The spirit of the day has evolved.
When you sit down at your table this weekend, surrounded by the people you love, giving thanks for nature’s bounty, give some thought to how reliant we have become on the global harvest for the food we take for granted and consume daily. Be grateful for the fresh fruit that was flown in over night from Chile or the red juicy tomatoes from the fertile fields of Mexico. You would need a very large table indeed, to include everyone who contributed to the harvesting of your Thanksgiving feast!
I for one am thankful that I live in a country and at a time that the failure of the local food crops no longer spells disaster for me and my neighbours. That our lives are no longer dictated by following a food source, it now comes to us. That we have technology available to easily preserve and store food safely and that thanks to a global supply chain, we have access to year round fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, at the end of November or you live in the southern hemisphere and your harvest is a couple of months away, when you finally do sit down for a celebratory feast, give thanks to all the people around the world who have contributed to the global food basket. There is much to be grateful for.