American Views Abroad

Thursday, November 23, 2006
A slew of articles on Thanksgiving in various US newspapers this year focused on how to survive a meal of too many calories or the logistic problems of getting to wherever the family dinner is to be held or how to cope with relatives who can be problematic or the etiquette of sitting around a table with the tug of football games in the background. There was even a juicy op- ed column on stuffing and how if there is one topic certain to cause an uproar or emotional distress on this day, it is what goes into a stuffing. Every family has its own traditions and Americans abroad have learned this when trying to plan a community Thanksgiving dinner.

This year Corby Kummer, who has been writing about food for years at The Atlantic Monthly, has the one article everyone should take to heart. In Thanksgiving's Moveable Feast in the NY Times he writes: Cranberries and any number of Thanksgiving Day staples are probably headed north (to Canada) thanks to global warming. .....North American agriculture is being affected today, for reasons that don't get much attention. Winter and nighttime temperatures are going up twice as fast as overall global warming, making for prolonged growing seasons and heat that can give pests a foothold........Damage to crops from weather extremes, aggressive weeds and voracious pests is a fact of the present. .....the real losers......Africa and South America, where droughts give rise to locusts......

Kummer suggests that Thanksgiving 'might be a time to think about how food is being grown where you live and what you can do about it.' Every Fall we go pumpkin hunting, i.e., we roam through the North German countryside looking for organic farmers and this year we hit upon a farm which specializes in old sorts of pumpkins and apples. We have just cup up a luscious looking, deep orange pumpkin for the soup and pie while two sorts of hard- to- find organic apples fill the apple pie. Germany has a rich tradition of organic farmers and sellers at farmers markets which are quite popular. They usually are more expensive, though not necessarily outrageously so. A small apple that delights the taste buds and smells good is more than enough than any number of huge bland tasting ones.

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