Amid my daily rosey-colored reminiscences of Thanksgivings past and selected poems and quotes from some of my favorite writers, I dare not pull the wool over my eyes regarding the hidden costs of an American Thanksgiving. A poignant article for AlterNet by Christopher D. Cooke, titled "The Hidden Costs of Thanksgiving," is not intended to douse the good-hearted spirit of gratitude. Its intent is to prevent a too narrow-minded view of what makes an American Thanksgiving dinner--and our routine overconsumption--possible. More than that, Cook would have us challenge ourselves to participate more responsibly in advocating for positive, equitable, and sensible personal and systemic changes as we become more aware of these global costs. Here are a few excerpts:
- "In today's American supermarket, there are no seasons, no limits. The world's harvests and manufactured meals are at your fingertips. The supermarket appears to symbolize the best of democratic capitalism, offering consumer choice and a largess born of amazing productivity. But how does all this food actually get here? Is it really as cheap and convenient as it seems?"
- "Our most basic necessity has become a force behind a staggering array of social, economic and environmental epidemics – pesticide-laminated harvests, labor abuse, treacherous science, and, at the reins, a few increasingly monopolistic corporations controlling nearly every aspect of human sustenance. The way we make, market and eat food today creates rampant illness, hunger, poverty, community disintegration and ecological decay – and even threatens our future food supply."
- "The very way we eat affects the future of food. Our buying and dining choices today affect our food options tomorrow. It's not simply a matter of big-farm-versus-small-farm, or pesticides against organics, natural versus genetically engineered. The food we eat is the product of a whole system that is in the process of destroying itself – poisoning our air and water, turning topsoil into useless dust, and putting farmers out to pasture. If we are to have a truly healthy cornucopia that sustains society, the entire system of making, distributing and marketing food must be sustainable."
- "There are paths to a better way: muscular antitrust measures to break up corporate control over food; subsidy reform that shifts payments (currently $15-20 billion a year) from large-scale agribusiness to ecologically sustainable diversified farms; aggressive regulation (and enforcement) of the meat industry's shoddy food safety practices and mistreatment of its workers; a serious reduction in the 500,000 tons of toxic pesticides dumped on our food each year; and major public investment in community food security projects that link together small local producers and consumers to supply healthy, affordable, sustainably produced food (the USDA ladled out just $4.6 million for such efforts last year)."