We All Have to Eat: A Thanks Giving Story
“We must pay greater attention to keeping our bodies and minds healthy and able to heal. Yet we are making it difficult for our defenses to work. We allow things to be sold that should not be called food.” —Dr. David Suzuki (scientist, environmentalist, broadcaster)
“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing, responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” — Wendell Berry (novelist, poet, farmer, environmentalist)
Below is a guest post by my sister’s good friend, Angeline Fletcher. She contacted me with her story, and I said, “That should be in a blog!” So, here it is.
I come from a hard background: inner city, broken family, drugs, alcohol, homelessness, and degradation. I’ve made many mistakes in my past . . . we all have our own path to walk down in our human quest for enlightenment.
Nearly 20 years ago, I was fortunate enough to find people that cared about broken people like me. Those particular people took me into a home setting with other women like myself. They cared for me, clothed me, made sure I was safe, and spent many months giving me therapy and helping me to see my value as a beautiful, unique woman that was worth saving. They fed me wisdom and spiritual food – food for my soul.
It wasn’t easy putting my life together from scratch in my mid 20’s. The only life I knew was the one I was trying desperately to stay away from. I was lonely a lot. But I made it! Now, two decades later, I’ve completely turned my life around. Sure, I still have work to do. Don’t we all? We never really arrive. I would be arrogant to think otherwise. Just food for thought.
I live in the deep dark woodlands of northern Michigan with my husband of 11 years. Our children have grown and moved on with their own lives, and here we are, on an old farm, living in a farmhouse that has seen many generations prior to our arrival. And what do we do for entertainment now that we are both retired? We are farmers!
We are small time compared to the other farmers around us, but the big difference is that we farm organic produce. We don’t want to pollute our bodies, the air, the water, and the earth. Everything is connected in our worldview. But we also take it a step further.
Emmet County Michigan is home to the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa and Ottawa Native Americans, among others, and we live on the edge of their reservation. Rural places mean everybody knows everyone else’s business, and we’ve heard the talk around town about the “Indian housing projects” and how the wealthy feel about living so close to it. That breaks my heart. We invaded their space, took their land, forced them into poverty and onto a reservation.
It became our mission to help in our own way, to try to do something to provide Native people with wholesome food—food with great nutritional value, no poisons, and grown with love. I also grow white sage and harvest birch bark from fallen trees. Those are used in offerings to Creator. The white sage sold in the one store up here is too expensive. There are no birch trees on the reservation itself, and the organic produce up here is, in my opinion, is too expensive for most townsfolk.
Our mission started off as what I called, ‘Take Care of The Landlord’ by providing food for Native Americans. Sometimes my husband and I would even drive a truck full of organic produce onto the reservation to give away. Today we just have a stand out front and that’s okay with me. We are so close to ‘the Rez’ that anyone there can walk here. Of course, we would still deliver if the need arises for a handicapped or elderly person in need, but the walk is good for the body. We provide the shopping bags.
Through the years of this mission, I have come to recognize my own bigotry, if you will, by wanting to only give away food to the people that I could personally identify with—the struggling and the overlooked in the community. My breakthrough came when I was restocking the stand and a white couple pulled up. There are no price signs because it’s free. They wanted to know how much the organic food would cost them. The look on their faces when I told them it was free? Priceless.
When you strip away all the nonsense of political affiliations, religion, money, skin color, etcetera, we are all humans. Just human beings with personal struggles trying to find our way in a world full of poisons flying at us from all fronts. So who am I to discriminate? I hope to never forget where I came from. My mission became free organic food for anyone who wants it. We feel grateful and so fortunate to be able to help improve the health of people in our community. We grow enough for everyone.
We are all the same under our skin and behind our thoughts. We are all human, and we all have to eat.
May the Creator of human life bless us all.
How to make a difference and respond in a positive way: Check out #GivingTuesday (www.GivingTuesday.org). In reaction to Black Friday and the holiday shopping frenzy, December 3 has been declared a day of giving to support nonprofit organizations. How fortuitous: December 3 is also my birthday!
On a side note: A portion of the profits from my book, Traveling Spirit: Daily Tools for Your Life’s Journey, go to The Lambi Fund, an organization recommended by a friend (Don Miller) who volunteers in Haiti. The Lambi Fund works on reforesting Haiti (along with sustainable agriculture). If you’re looking for a holiday gift that encourages spiritual practices and gives to a nonprofit, then contact me for a signed copy of my book or purchase it on-line. Available from Balboa Press. Buy it now on Amazon. Kindle edition is available here.
In joy & gratitude,
Diana J. Ensign