When Thanksgiving comes to mind, I think of my family and all of
the things I am thankful for having in this life. But the whole
time I'm thinking those nice thoughts, what I'm really focused on
is the food. Everything, even the thankful thoughts, seems to be
centered on that one meal: the roast turkey, the stuffing, the
gravy, the potatoes, the cranberries, the pies and more.
As my family started making our own Thanksgiving traditions, one
of things we decided was to have a farm-fresh turkey. I grew up on
frozen Butterballs (no worries, mom,they were delicious). But I
decided that Thanksgiving is probably one of the best times for us
to remember the motto "know your food, know your farmer."
It's important to us that our kids learn from the start that
turkeys come from a farm, not a freezer case at the grocery
In the season of the city farmer's markets, we try to purchase a
lot of our food there. One of our favorite's is the Green City
Market, which is where we found Meadow Haven
Farm, the owner of this year's (and last years) Thanksgiving
turkey, at least until Wednesday when I pick it up. Last year, the
beautiful, free-range, organic poults grew so big that I had to
figure out how to use a lot of turkey.
A few years ago, we visited a dairy farm in Wisconsin. The farm
had just received their poults, and we decided to let Gabriella and
Nicholas pick out our Thanksgiving turkey. At age four, my daughter
could completely understand what this was all about, because we
explained it to her in great detail-and she was fine with it. I
might even say she was excited about it. They picked the smallest
turkey that happened to be a hen, and promptly named her
"Isabelle." So, for the next few months, Isabelle was the
talk of our house. Unfortunately, since she was in Wisconsin, we
couldn't witness her growth in person, but the farmer was kind
enough to send us pictures of Isabelle as she grew. About two days
prior to when we were scheduled to pick up Isabelle; my phone rang
and panic set in. Isabelle, having always been the smallest of the
bunch, turned out to be a lot of feathers and fluff-weighing in at
about 8 pounds after processing. The farmer apologized, and offered
to swap a larger turkey and not tell our kids. In the end we
decided to take Isabelle, and an additional larger turkey, and all
was well. Nobody cried at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and we
talked about how nice it was that we knew exactly where she'd been
living and what she'd been eating since we saw her.
Now, I'm not ready to let my kids watch the turkeys get
slaughtered. But someday, when they are much older we will. I'm not
trying to turn them into vegetarians, and can't imagine they would
want to give up bacon and sausage even if they watched a pig get
slaughtered. Sometimes, protecting our children from things that
are real and part of life seems strange to me. Read Charlotte's
Web, and help them understand that many pigs like Wilbur provide
our food, and that Charlotte dying is part of the circle of
So this Thanksgiving, why not let your kids know their food and
know their farmer? Find some farm-fresh produce, or order a
farm-fresh turkey, or talk about where our most delicious meal
every year comes from: the farm. Then remind them that we should be
thankful for our family and friends, and the farmers that help us
enjoy this delicious meal: Thanksgiving dinner.
See more of Heather's stories here.
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