On Food and Giving Thanks for Neoliberalism: Taking the Capital out of Thanksgiving by Matt Cumings

Tis the season for turkey, and  I just really want to talk about food!  Mmmmmm, yummy food my favorite of which, like a teenager, is still the turkey leg! Speaking of turkeys, here’s a nice letter from your last local turkey farmer. Or how about pumpkin pie, I really don’t eat it any other time of the year, the same thing with cranberries and persimmons. Persimmons are such a strange fruit, much like the strange fruit the american empire continues to bear:

“Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?  In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.” – Jesus

As much as we may complain about having to put up with our racist right wing Fox watching uncle during thanksgiving everyone looks forward to the meal time at least. If you do want to learn to learn to engage constructively with the “Christian Right” you should check out Andrea Smith’s Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances. The table ethic is the liminal space that embodies the idea of shalom in one event. Food, shelter, and community and enough for everyone.  Native Americans approach every meal with the sort of thankfulness we are often intentional about only one day a year. Of course, we have a tendency to commodify holy days and appropriate others’ spirituality, one could make a case that Thanksgiving is an appropriation of not even Indigenous spirituality but that actually embodiment of a people. You can get educated on Native appropriations at Dr. Keene’s blog if you’d like. Or you can read about the eurocentric mindset firsthand from different perspectives!

 

What is your favorite corn dish? There are so many good ones- of course thanks to the all old white people led 350.org march most people are well aware of the monster Monsanto is. But we turn a blind eye to neoliberal policy responsible for globalizing an economy to serve the white supremacist american empire. By opening (so-called) mexico as a free market the subsidized (so-called) u.s. corn could be purchased cheaper in mexico than native species of corn from mexico. This forced farmers to abandon their land for cities and/or eventually travel north to survive.

Still the food though, the food is where it’s at! Even though it comes from farmers spraying pesticides on Native’s land ruining the very skin of Mother Earth. Oh, but you probably buy your food from Whole Foods where it’s organic and all that. It does taste better, doesn’t it!? Organic gardening is really hard work. I don’t know what a worker’s experience is like on a large-scale organic farm, I know from doing it myself it’s much harder dealing with weeds and other pests than just spraying stuff.

Places like Whole Foods and New Seasons in Portland are pioneer companies for gentrification. Hipsters and other upwardly mobile folks won’t move into an area until there is a “proper market” in a reasonable driving distance. Fred Myers, Kroger, and the like are now becoming the only place lower classes can shop, especially in urban areas. So…what’s the answer? Farmer’s Market? Hmm, probably not.

Maybe a sharing food community? Permaculture wants to get there but as it has appropriated Indigenous knowledge without being in a good relationship with the Indigenous peoples from whom much of it was understood from it has begun the commodification process that leads to being co-opted in the capitalist white supremacist system. It’s a shame it did embody Indigenous ways of knowing and being or Australia may have a different relationship with its Aboriginal people. At the end of the day we must recognize whose land we are one, and we must make the distinctions between who was physically forced here by the slave trade or who was forced here by neoliberal policy and other groups and the white european colonizers. Ultimately, at the end of the day we are all Settlers, but conflating all non-Indigenous people into this category is problematic.

I just wanted to talk about what a great time it is to get together on thanksgiving and eat- what a good time it is celebrating our national religion of white supremacy. It’s really all about the food, I keep getting sidetracked though.

As I have done throughout I suggest we stop capitalizing (interesting we choose the word capitalize as a metaphor to signify a word/event as especially important) thanksgiving and stop celebrating the holiday altogether. In the near future there may be one last use for Thanksgiving, a day when the u.s. empire recognizes whose land they are on and let the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and the entire world lead us all in a good way. In this way we can truly give thanksgiving everyday instead of living selfishly all year and releasing the shame in one ceremonial day of of gluttonous feasting (not to mention the hangover we experience from even one day of not consuming- after just one day or pretending to be thankful we rush into the streets because our desire to consume will not be tamed- Black Friday indeed.), in this way we can begin to balance. First we must admit we are sick because we live in a sick society. If you still have trouble truly admitting that white european men came to Turtle Island and forced their way on to the land to create a white haven, look at Ferguson and the the missing and murdered Indigenous women. The end of Thanksgiving will lead to the beginning of thanksgiving.

I long for a day when I live in a community welcomed to the land by the people it belongs to, and whom the land longs to be with. When we can eat the native food of the area, and other food traded directly from producer to producer. A day free from living complicitly with empire, this is thanksgiving in a good way.

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