Just a few things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving

IMG_0888 (2)There are many things I am thankful for this year; my healthy, happy daughter, my amazing husband, my supportive family and friends, the incredible amount of opportunities that are available to me, and all of you. I’m so thankful for you coming back again and again, reading my words, hopefully using, or being inspired by my recipes, and sharing things you love.

I live in an amazing world with amazing people. I know there are terrible things happening every day, however, I need to focus on the good. I also need to focus on how I can help make changes in the world around me. I am fortunate that my career in social work allows me to feel I am working toward making positive change in the world. As the media has been pouring in tragic incident after tragic incident I find I am reflective on my station in life, and how lucky I am to be in the place I’m in. Part of this means I have the opportunity to choose what kinds of food I eat; to be picky, to feel I have the choice to be vegan, or vegetarian, or change my mind whenever I want. I know that I will always have enough. I had to remind myself yesterday as I was cooking about being so privileged to have this choice. I found myself getting cranky while I was cooking, as I was cooking only for myself. I am joining my in-laws for Thanksgiving and I bring all of my own food to these gatherings. I don’t eat their food, and they don’t eat mine. Sometimes this is hard, but man, think of the privilege where I have excessive food, and can say no. I get to stick to my “ideals” and make the choice to be picky. I feel thankful to have this choice. On this note I wanted to share a bit of my food journey. It has been a a long time, and I have been through many stages in my life. Looking back I’m thankful for the opportunity and the support through them all. I would doubt my food journey is anywhere near finished, but this is how I got to be where I am.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

My Food Journey 

Check out backstory on the about page for an idea of where I came from when it comes to food. That aside, I have been on a bit of a journey and food exploration over my lifetime. It all started in my childhood…

When I was young I hated cheese. I hated everything about it; the smell, the taste. YUCK! I wouldn’t eat anything with cheese on or in it. That means all those “usual” childhood foods; mac ‘n cheese, pizza, grilled cheese, I wouldn’t touch! My parents never made a big deal out of it, and it turned out that I have a sensitivity to dairy anyway. I think this is where my food exploration started. Instead of grilled cheese I had grilled PB&J, I ate my pizza without cheese, and loved it. With my mother’s influence I started to see traditional combinations as inspiration instead of expectation.

I started my vegetarian journey by giving up meat for Lent when I was 12, and I never started eating it again. I didn’t really have a reason at the time for being vegetarian, I think I just wanted to be cool. My best friend was vegetarian, but I didn’t know any other people who were, and I was trying very hard to be different at that time. It stuck, and became a part of my identity. As I grew more aware I developed reasons for staying vegetarian. My reasons became been centered around the environmental impact of vegetarianism. I was also horrified by factory farming, but was never really motivated by animal rights. To me it just seemed that being vegetarian was the moral way to live.

These ideals pushed me to eventually become vegan and I stayed vegan for several years, but it never quite seemed to fit. I think it didn’t fit because I felt I needed to hold tight to my morals to maintain being vegan, and when I did that I felt the need to judge others as well as myself. I actually almost broke up with my now husband during this time because he ate meat. I didn’t, thank goodness, and managed to come to terms with being vegan myself, but not forcing my beliefs on others. I stayed vegan for a while, and then…

When I was in my late 20’s I moved to Maine with my husband. We bought a house in the woods and right across the street was a small, family run farm, with chickens. They had fresh eggs for sale in a box at the end of their driveway. You would go up, leave the money, and take a carton of eggs. As I was coming home from the store one day with my cartons of tofu I had a revelation; I was using tofu that was processed, packaged, shipped, and sent across the country to substitute for eggs that would come from across the street. As I said before, my reasons for being vegan were environmental, and for my beliefs it started to make more sense for me to start eating eggs rather than use other ingredients for a substitute. I also started to think about some of my other food choices and where my food came from.

I continue to make changes in my choices to this day, and I am not hard-core when it comes to eating local, but I try to make choices that feel good to my moral conscience. The balance between being aware, but not putting incredible pressure on myself is what works for me. I want to be a conscious eater, and hope that I will continue to learn, grow and develop my relationship with food and my environment.

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