Click here to read all posts in the First Feast series.
When planning a dinner party or holiday feast, the first concern is not the food. The first order of business is the guest list; specifically getting people to come your event. On the Fourth of July, this is a breeze. Everyone loves a barbecue. However, the holiday season is different. Most people are traveling to see family. This presented a challenge, because honestly, a table laden with food and a party of one is just sad.
By either divine intervention or pure luck, two friends decided that for the first time they would not travel to see family for Thanksgiving. I presented my idea to them, and asked them to be a part of the project — my holiday feast-testers in a way. Before I knew it, not only did they agree to join in on the fun, but the daughter of one and the boyfriend of the other agreed. After mentioning this to my own best friend, he and his wife agreed to spend the holiday with us as well. In total, the dinner list went from a hopeful four to 14 people. I was ecstatic, but there were two major problems.
Disconnected from Our Food
When everyone thought I was just growing vegetables for the table the idea was intriguing. However, when it the future diners realized there would be no grocery stores involved, they saw the menu of food items, and I told them I was hunting for everything…well the following exchange showcases the general turn in viewpoint.
“I'm not eating something that used to be alive, Kiara.”
“You eat things that used to be alive every day.”
“Not [higher octave range] beautiful creatures that were running around the woods, minding their own business!”
"All animals are beautiful. Some also happen to be tasty.”
My flippant response garnered nothing more than a snort. I should have stopped while I was ahead, but kept on talking.
“So if they aren't scampering in the woods, its ok to kill and eat them? You're such a...an animalist!”
I don't think that is a real word. I made it up on the spot. It’s supposed to mean someone who thinks some animals are more worthy than other animals. I dont know if that's really a thing. I'll have to send a query to P.E.T.A to find out.
The problem is one, I think, many homesteaders, and hunters face all the time. The average person cannot admit all the cellophane wrapped meat in their local big box grocery store did not appear there by magic. Beef is a cow before it is a T-bone steak. Chickens run around before appearing in the frozen meat section. Most turkeys don’t get pardoned by the President. The reality of life is all of our food is harvested. The question is by whom, in what conditions, and how long ago. But the idea of hunting and putting your harvest on the table is abhorrent to people.
Sitting in a deer-hunting blind.
I would like to say it’s because of the “killing” aspect of hunting, but gardening gives only a slightly different response. I’ve noticed that people think gardening is cool, but if you tell them you get all of your produce from a garden and won’t go to the grocery, people do give you a look. They think its…off, somehow. Yet, they have no problem going into Whole Foods to buy overpriced vegetables that are days old. Harvesting a deer, rabbit, or duck is disgusting, but meat killed at a slaughterhouse of questionable cleanliness is normal.
There is a disconnect between people and the food they eat every day. Few question or think about where it comes from. A year ago, when news stories of e coli in packages of spinach and lettuce hit the airwaves, I shrugged it off. I knew I did not have to worry about any of that, because I knew here my vegetables were coming from, my little 4-by-12 plot.
My response to the concerns and apprehension of my friends, included pointing out these little tidbits of information. Their response usually entailed dismissing the reality of meat and veggies from a grocery store. More than a couple responded with words along the lines of, “As long as I don’t have to see it, and it’s in a neat package, that’s fine for me.”
I guess they thought I was going to butcher the deer in the kitchen, and pluck the feathers from the ducks in the driveway.
Frustrating as those discussions were they certainly were better debates than the question that followed them: What else is on the menu?
Read Part 5 of The First Feast Project: "Adding Some Soul to Thanksgiving."
Kiara Ashanti is originally from the cold state of New Jersey. He attended college in sunny Florida and graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Speech Communication. He loves taking on new projects and is the author of over 200 articles ranging from trading securities, politics, social policy, and celebrity interviews. Read all of Kiara's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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