Thanksgiving: Scarcity among Bounty

BountySome of you may have already grown tired of my tweets expressing awe that, rather than the 15 pound turkey I had ordered from our farmers, I came home Tuesday with a 21 pounder. They just didn’t have any smaller birds this year, it seems.

So there she is, our enormous bird, all slathered with bacon, also from Jill and Mary, far more than we need but enough that we’ll be enjoying (frozen) leftovers until summer.

It somehow feels appropriate that the turkeys are so big this year.

Last year, the farmers in Michigan — and those of us who purchase directly from them — seemed to reach Thanksgiving with a shocked worry. The summer of drought had devastated key Michigan crops, especially the state’s tart cherries. You couldn’t find Michigan pears and other orchard crops were similarly scarce. Meat farmers, even those who rely on local grains, had to cope with CAFOs from Indiana buying up all Michigan’s straw and grain; people thinned herds because there wasn’t enough food to make it through the winter. A number of the farmers we rely on seemed worried whether they would make it.

So while this year’s record floods brought new worries, when the crops all came in in order, and in great bounty, it was a relief. Fat Al Gore hadn’t done us in yet! I had enough tart cherries to dry and will still have MI pears in the fridge for several weeks yet. A local craft cider maker recently told me that scores of farmers with orchards of old, forgotten (but tasty!) apple varietals could save those orchards because they had a buyer for their boom harvest this year. And for Mr. EW and I, in the home we moved into the day before Thanksgiving last year, we’ve even still got green tomatoes, kale, and carrots from our garden.

Done BountyThe harvest was especially generous this year.

But I’m also acutely aware that so many Michiganders — my neighbors — enjoy little of that bounty. MI was in a depression before the economy crashed, and too many people have never recovered. Because our unemployment remains among the highest, Michiganders will have access, still, to somewhat extended unemployment benefits. But every one of those long-term unemployed represents a family that may never recover from financial setback. Add in the cuts to food stamps, and I worry that what Mother Nature has spared (thus far), our dysfunctional society has condemned to suffer.

And so as we sit down to our MI wine and turkey and bacon and brussel sprouts and spuds and sage-and-sunchoke-stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie and cream, I will be grateful for this year’s bounty. I will be thankful for the gifts my family provided me and the support and community our readers have given. I will be grateful for that enormous turkey.

But let’s remember those who face scarcity among the bounty.

Updated with pic of done turkey. Before the 7.5 pounds of leftovers, I mean.


16 replies
  1. joanneleon says:

    Beautiful post. Happy Thanksgiving to all and let’s hope that we can all pull through this somehow, in the long run, and keep working to do whatever we can, however small, to make things better.

    Best to all.

  2. Linnaeus says:

    Michigan is a more bountiful place than many people realize and it’s a shame that more people there can’t share in that, both due to external shifts and forces and the Snyderstan regime.

  3. Peterr says:

    Marcy, if the leftovers from that turkey last until summer, you’re not doing it right. We get ourselves a big turkey so that we have leftovers enough to enjoy meals of turkey & wild rice soup, turkey pot pies, turkey noodle soup, and so on. And if there’s still turkey on sale next week, we may get another one for the freezer, to break out in February when we need more leftovers.

  4. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: Oh, I’ll just stick it in the freezer for when I’m not sick of turkey anymore. Just finished the last of last year’s turkey wild rice “soup” a few weeks back.

  5. Valley Girl says:

    Marcy, loved your post.

    I have a huge collection of cookbooks, though I rarely cook. I just like reading them. Somewhere among that collection is a more succinct recipe for “Pulled and Devilled Turkey” from a Jane Grigson cookbook. If I locate it, I’ll scan it and email it to you. I was first served this in the UK- well, that’s were it originated, and it was love at first taste. Oh, and yes, I’ve cooked it myself, with delectable results.

    In the meanwhile, this Brit newspaper article is what I can offer:

    It goes into great detail, historical and other, but the recipe is a narrative.

    Highly recommended!

  6. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: Geweurztraminer. Partly bc I really like (have discovered, just this year) the winery and that’s all my wine store had. Was hoping for their Pinot Gris. It was lovely.

    Also had an unoaked chardonnay from this winery, which is becoming perennial for us on Turkey day.

  7. Peterr says:

    @emptywheel: The notes on the gewuerztraminer look really interesting. When I drink chardonnay, I go for unoaked chardonnay, to let the lighter flavor of the fruit come forward.

  8. Jim White says:

    Hope everyone had bounteous food, family and friends today. We have arrived in the hopelessly freezing locale where there will be a horse show tomorrow through Sunday. Gonna be a challenge…

  9. bloodypitchfork says:

    quote:”Last year, the farmers in Michigan — and those of us who purchase directly from them — seemed to reach Thanksgiving with a shocked worry. The summer of drought had devastated key Michigan crops, especially the state’s tart cherries.”

    Wow. So you live in Michigan huh? I just moved to Michigan from Oregon. I haven’t lived here long enough to experience local grown foodstuffs. And now it’s winter so I won’t see much until next year. What I don’t understand, at least in the area I live in, is the lack of bread choices. Especially..sourdough/frenchbread…mmmmmmmmmmmm! Hot sourdough. My favorite food of all! And I can’t find a single loaf anywhere. In fact..I can’t even find a real BAKERY! :( Of course, if one knows where “Baldwin” is…that might explain it. :)(how does one improvise a “rolling eyes smiley?)

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