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Gratitude grows in garden

By Erin Elledge Burleson

When we started our garden, we learned quickly how much we take our produce for granted – and, even more so, our nation’s food supply chain.  

We walk through the produce section of our local grocery stores and choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables without ever having to think about where they came from, how they got there, who harvested them or who washed them. We’ve been blessed beyond measure to grow up with an abundance of food that is prepared and ready for us at the store whenever we want it. 

When we made our first attempts to grow fruits and vegetables, we realized it takes tremendous dedication and time to grow a garden.  

For instance, it takes 80-100 days to grow fullsized potatoes from seed potatoes. For three or four months, someone has to watch over that potato plant, water it, make sure it doesn’t have any pests and provide it any additional nourishment it needs.  

After that, someone has to harvest it, wash it, package it and deliver it.  

So many hands touch our produce before we ever see it, including the kind grocer who places it in the produce section for us to pick through.  

One night we were sitting around the dinner table after giving thanks for our meal, and we started talking about how grateful we were for all the people who might have in some way helped make our meal possible. The seemingly never-ending list of contributors kept us entertained all throughout dinner.  

Back 100 years ago, it would have been simple to thank the people who made it possible because they themselves would have planted it, grown it, protected it, harvested it, cleaned it and cooked it. If they didn’t grow it themselves, then they probably got it from their families or neighbors.  

Now it’s unfathomable how many people contribute to our food supply chain and how far our food travels to our plates.  

When we find ourselves looking for something to talk about at dinner with our family or friends, we sometimes try incorporating this incredible food web into our conversation. It’s crazy how creativity, humor and especially gratitude come into play when you give thanks in this way.  

Here is a quick example of the extremes we go to: If a potato is on the plate, we’d start by thanking the farmer who planted our potatoes, then the tractor driver who harvested them, the tractor company’s CEO, the whole tractor plant and the thousands who work there, the mechanic who fixes the tractor, the creator of the tractor tires, the bankers who gave the loan to buy the tractor, etceteraWe just bounce ideas off of each other until we can’t think of anyone else to thank.  

This whole gardening endeavor has given us a greater understanding of how our food grows and more insight into our food supply chain than ever before. Thanks to our little garden, so much gratitude has grown in our hearts.  

One of the most rewarding things about shopping at our local farmers market is that we don’t have to just imagine the hands that harvested our potatoes from the earth; we get to see them. It is such an honor to shake the hands of our local farmers and thank them in person for all of their hard work, dedication and delicious food.