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Eater’s Almanac: Gratitude and care

Gary Snyder

Eater’s Almanac is our weekly newsletter for the Huss Project Farmer’s Market. You can receive a print copy each week at the market, which includes a recipe for seasonal vegetables!

 “Everyone who has ever lived took the lives of other animals, pulled plants, plucked fruit, and ate. Primary people … knew that taking life required gratitude and care. There is no death that is not somebody’s food, no life that is not somebody’s death.” 

Gary Snyder in The Practice of the Wild 

“But I’m just trying to grab some cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market,” you may be thinking. “Why interrupt my Saturday morning with talk of death?” 

We may get distracted for a moment by rooting for Olympic athletes or scarfing down the latest episode of Ted Lasso. But who among us can deny that the topic of death has been hanging around our doorstep relentlessly for the past year and a half as we’ve navigated a global pandemic, watched the fallout of climate change, and witnessed (again) the impacts of racial injustice? Death is all around us, whether we acknowledge it or not. 

In the wake of certain losses, there is nothing but grief. No greeting card or religious conviction or well-intentioned word can spin it into anything other than tragedy. There is nothing to do but weep, and figure out how to live with it. 

Other losses, however, are a mixed bag: a job loss is the impetus to go back to school and pursue a dream. One relationship’s closure creates space for new connections. Endings and beginnings, death and life—in our everyday lives, they’re all tangled up together, including on our plates. 

Awareness of where our food comes from, and all of the people, plants, and animals who make that nourishment possible, is the foundation of gratitude and care. It’s practice for all of the other things in life that we can only endure through deeper connection with each other, with Earth, and with our sense of “something more.” 

Image of Gary Snyder copyright 2014 Festival of Faiths: Sacred Earth Sacred Self.

Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Kirstin is a member of the *culture is not optional core community and is the Head Caretaker at GilChrist Retreat Center.