Last week I wrote about my alarm over the high price of lettuce – seven dollars for a head that weighed about a pound (this week that same head of lettuce is $7.49). That’s about the same price as ground beef. This seems just . . . well, NQR – not quite right.
When I complained about the soaring price of lettuce to my friend, she suggested that I view the situation in a different way. Why not be thankful we can even get lettuce and other out-of-season produce any time of the year?
When I grew up, pineapple was available only in December and it was a huge treat. My mother would serve it as dessert; it was special! My father was born in 1899 and was a lifelong Oregon resident. He said at Christmas he got one orange in his stocking and citrus was not seen for the rest of the year. Now we have not only citrus and pineapple, but blueberries year around. I once studied the “global blueberry supply chain”. We are so fortunate to get blueberries in the winter from Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Raspberries are available all year too, along with a long list of other out-of-season fruits and vegetables.
I took my friend’s advice and in the spirit of being grateful, I started to think about all the people involved in getting iceberg lettuce onto my plate. How many people participate in the process from the time the farmer plants the seed to when a shopper plucks the head of lettuce from the produce aisle? Think about it. Fertilizer and pesticides, farm labor and machinery, farming cooperatives, processing plants and warehouses, trucking and containers, refrigeration, food safety, regulators and inspectors at every turn, and labor unions. Then include all those involved in the policy-level issues such as immigration, trade, and subsidies. On first glance the head of lettuce may seem commonplace, but consider the collective effort it took to get it onto your plate.
I can make a choice. I can complain about the high price of lettuce or appreciate all those people who make it possible for me to eat that sweet, succulent, tender lettuce when it’s 30 degrees outside. Having a gratitude attitude might sound cliché, but when I notice the constant stream of the small little blessings in life, I feel fullness and joy. It’s like Thanksgiving every day when I see the cornucopia of good things that come my way.
This Thanksgiving, acknowledge the contribution of the all unseen people who help get food onto your table. This will add richness to your celebration. Maybe now you can even be grateful for that $7.49 head of lettuce.