Thanksgiving is almost here and before we know it, we will be gathered around the dinner table surrounded by friends, family and neighbors, sharing what we are all most thankful for. While we can all agree on being thankful for loved ones and pumpkin pie, most of us just can’t wait to dig into the delicious Thanksgiving feast! When you pass the cranberry sauce down the table, take a moment to notice just how much of our Thanksgiving foods are the product of successful pollination. It’s just about everything but the turkey and cornbread! Hard-working animals like hummingbirds, bats, bees and butterflies pollinate over 75 percent of our flowering plants and nearly 75 percent of our crops. What better way to share this powerful message with others than by cooking and eating, something we all love!
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with Williams-Sonoma to present a Thanksgiving cooking class dedicated to our pollinator friends. As our talented Chef Melissa prepared a delicious turkey dinner, we took a good look at what was going into our food. Everything including the pumpkin pie, the onions and celery in the stuffing, broccoli and cauliflower, the rub on the turkey, even the glaze on the cornbread was the product of pollination. This doesn’t even count the dozens of spices we used either or the after-dinner coffee! During dessert, I explained the importance of the monarch butterfly’s survival as an indicator of our environment’s health and how the species pilots the movement to protect other pollinators like bees, moths, and flies.
Less than a week later, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge hosted a kid-friendly cooking event geared towards a pollinator’s role in eating healthy foods. Chef Larry, known as Sergeant Tabasco to some, prepared a chicken fried rice with countless fruits and vegetables, mostly all of which require pollination and can be incorporated into your Thanksgiving dinner. Chef Larry explained in depth where our food comes from and how pollinators are responsible for a majority of the food we eat. His colorful presentation and wide varieties of food was so appetizing, it kept the guests coming up for seconds! Even the kids didn’t mind eating their veggies!
With preparations for Thanksgiving well underway, take a moment to thank a pollinator this season. The video below shows how different our Thanksgiving would look if it were not for these powerful insects. To help support monarch and pollinator populations, plant flowers that are native to your area and reduce your use of pesticides.