With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are finalizing our holiday plans. For many, the holiday season this year is going to look very different. Many states are experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases and as a result are facing new lockdowns and restrictions on gathering. For many this means not traveling to see family, not attending church services, or forgoing the usually holiday activities and staying home.
Our food system has been especially stretched over the course of this pandemic. Thanksgiving this year seems an even more important opportunity to stop and thank God for His many blessings. Among the items we can be grateful for are family, friends, and health—but also for our food! This year has shown to many of us, especially urban dwellers far from the countryside, just how much gratitude we owe our farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers and all who produce our food.
This holiday season, we encourage you to give back to your farmers and find more ways to support them in their work. Here are some suggestions:
1) Thank a Farmer – This is a simple, easy way to show your gratitude for all their hard work.
2) Buy Local – The best way to support farmers is to buy from them directly. This can be done through shopping your local farmers market, joining a CSA, becoming a member of a local food co-op, or finding local farm stores and farm websites to purchase from in your area. Or, take the time to read the label at the favorite grocery store, as most carry local options.
3) Eat Local – If you plan to order in or eat out this holiday season, support your local farm-to-table and family-owned restaurants. This supports both the farmers, who rely on the restaurant for food supply orders, and the business and food workers involved.
4) Eliminate Food Waste – At a time when many foods and supplies are still scarce, take extra caution to not waste the food you have been blessed with.
5) Communicate with Policymakers – Advocate for better support of our family farmers, agricultural and food workers as well as for better access to ethically sourced foods for all.
6) Support Organizations – Support organizations like CRL that are working to advocate, promote, and support farmers across the country.
7) Volunteer – In some areas, seasonal agricultural workers have been prevented from helping due to COVID-19. Consider reaching out and volunteering your time this holiday season at a local farm.
8) Spread the Word – Be sure to spread the word to others about the ways in which they can support their local food producers too!
9) Pray for our Farmers – As you sit down to your meals this holiday season, offer up prayers in thanksgiving for our farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers and all who produce our food. Ask the Lord to continue to bless their work, their families, and to keep them safe from harm.
St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers, pray for us!
– Annie Huntington is the Project Coordinator for Catholic Rural Life.