For about as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving in my family has really been about food, first and foremost. Of course, immediately followed by family (If not for family, both real and adopted, who would all that food be for anyway?!). Then, not exactly as an afterthought, we would give thanks.
These days, I’m profoundly aware of the need for gratitude in our lives, and not just as a virtue, but because gratitude can have a profound effect on happiness as well. [http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier]
Of course, as a Mom and healthy living coach, I love that this holiday is about food too! Bringing gratitude and food together leads me to think about where our Thanksgiving food actually comes from.
I’m grateful for the animals who will give their lives for the feast on our table, grateful for the farmers who grow and prepare our food, including tending to the animals who provide much of it. And, I’m grateful for beekeepers and their incredible fleet of workers – literally worker-bees! – who, with their pollinator brethren, make many of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes possible.
Did you know that Cranberries, Pumpkins, Celery, Onions, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots, Apples, Pears, Vanilla, and even some Coffees all require the work of a pollinator? (In fact, 71 out of the top 100 crops providing 90% of the world’s food are pollinated by bees. One out of every three bites of food is pollinated by honeybees alone. Bees contribute over 20 billion to the US economy and $217 billion to the global economy annually!)
While researching this column, I found out that there is something we can do to extend this gratefulness one step further this Thanksgiving. We can actually thank the bees and other pollinators and speak out to protect them.
Turns out that bees are dying at alarming rates. A certain kind of pesticide, known as neonicotinoids (neonics), is a key contributor to their die-offs. (In Europe there is a 2-year ban on these pesticides in order for them to figure out the path forward.) But here in the US, neonics are among the most heavily used insecticides. At the same time, we’re seeing the loss of pollinators (including butterflies, earthworms, lady bugs, dragon flies, reptiles, and birds).
Beekeepers report an unprecedented 30% loss in hives over the last eight years. The bees in this case are the “canaries in the coal mine”, sending out a warning for all pollinators. Studies clearly indicate neonics as a key factor in bee declines.
From now until November 24th, we have a unique opportunity to call on President Obama and his administration to take action to protect pollinators.
If you want to give thanks, then take a moment to tell the EPA and USDA to suspend bee-harming pesticides by clicking here. There is a short window to speak out for the bees and other pollinators. Or you can visit www.Regulations.gov directly to submit written comments regarding: EPA docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0806.
Please urge the administration to take the following steps:
• Immediately stop the release and use of neonicotinoids for agricultural uses—including seed treatments—as well as cosmetic and other unnecessary uses pending pesticide re-evaluation.
• Ensure that new pollinator habitat is free from neonicotinoids and other systemic insecticides and that all pollinator-attractive plants planted have not been pre-treated with these insecticides.
Don’t let the gratitude activism stop there! Have your kids write a note and spread the word to others. Please share this link on Facebook, write a blog post, and/or send out a thankful tweet including the hashtag #grateful4bees. Let’s make sure to thank those who are born to give – the bees, and all the pollinators – and who work all of their lives making Thanksgiving and every other meal possible.
Thank YOU for taking the time out to read this post and for taking action. I am grateful to live in a world with people who know the meaning of gratitude.