I love all of the news reports about shortages this holiday season. And by love, what I mean to say is that I find it amusing, but also worrisome, because the general flavor of the reporting falls firmly into that fearmongering that has been so much a part of the narrative for too long.
The message is "Be worried!" "You're going to be deprived!" "Your family is going to starve!"
I mean, is it the worst thing, ever, to NOT have a turkey at Thanksgiving?
There have been many Thanksgivings here at Chez Brown at which a turkey was not only NOT featured as part of our Harvest meal, but we didn't even have turkey on the table. One year we had rabbit, because we raise rabbits, and they are, actually, a part of our harvest. One year we had lobster, because we live in Maine and lobster is local, to us. One year everything we had was local, and some of it was even foraged. We made an "acorn pie" using a pecan pie recipe and subbing acorns for pecans and our own maple syrup for the corn syrup the recipe called for.
Recently, I saw a report that stuffing is going to be in short supply. What? The fact is that "stuffing" is super easy to make, right at home, with ingredients most people already have in their kitchens. Bread (mine's gluten free, and any bread item will do. I've made it with hotdog buns cut into cubes). Broth or water. Sage and other herbs. Butter. Onions. I use celery salt rather than actual celery. Stuffing does NOT have to be something that we don't get at Thanksgiving, because there aren't enough boxes of the premade stuff to go around. Just sayin'.
I read these reports ... well, mostly just the headlines, and I just shake my head.
And I wonder what the end game is for the people who are doing the reporting, or for the people who are asking that the story be told. What do they want US to do?
At the beginning of 2020, when there were reports of this pandemic happening in other parts of the world, and then, when it became clear that it was happening here, too, the grocery store shelves were stripped of all sorts of (to me) very strange items. Nearly anything in a can or a box was snatched up. There was no pasta or pasta sauce. The cereal aisle was pretty empty. In fact, most things in the center of the store - the premade stuff - was gone.
But there were plenty of eggs and flour for making pasta, and the produce aisle was as well-stocked as always. I even found tomatoes for $0.25/lb. Yes, that was 25 CENTS! per pound.
The problem was that those people who believed the headlines and ran out to the stores to get prepared were then criticized and called "hoarders." During that time, I actually saw a commentary by the food banks about how people should not be "hoarding" food, because then, the food banks won't get any of it, and they won't have anything to give their clients. Say, what?
I think the biggest problem is that too many folks just don't know how or don't have the time or energy to cook for themselves, and they depend on boxed and prepared foods. As prices continue to rise, this fact will make getting good food harder for the people who depend on convenience.
My daughter is in the kitchen right now. She's making lunch for herself and her boyfriend. Lunch is a bagel with sausage, egg, and cheese, hashbrows (grated potato and onion, fried in butter), and sauteed broccoli with crumbled feta. It smells as yummy as it sounds.
And not. one. thing. in that meal came in a box. The sausage is from our pig share. The eggs are from our chickens. The broccoli is from my garden. The potatoes and onion are from the farmstand. The butter and cheese are both from local creameries. The bagels are a local bakery.
I don't think my daughter is too worried about shortages this Thanksgiving. I think she's pretty confident that whatever we have, it will be good, and she won't be hungry.
The point, for me, is to be grateful and "give thanks" for the bounty of the harvest. Getting fixated on the need to include very specific food items is not a part of the day for my family.
Our "harvest meal" this year will be something like:
Ham (part of our pig share) or smoked chicken
GF sourdough bread
potatoes, probably boiled and whipped
Brussels sprouts or Kale, or both
Baked brie with a blueberry topping
Pumpkin pie or custard, if we have enough eggs.
If we believe we are being deprived, then we will feel deprived. I choose not to feel deprived, and to be bit more resilient than those who are listening to the news and worrying that they won't have everything they need to make Thanksgiving a feast. We'll have a feast, or at very least, just a nice meal.
The next day, I'll slice up some potatoes, make a cheese sauce, add the leftover ham, top with the leftover stuffing or cubed sourdough bread, and bake for a cheesy potato casserole. Sounds yummy, and even without boxed stuffing and a turkey, I'm pretty sure our bellies will be full.
And that's what matters, right?