November 23, 2017

Why I’m only eating this single bowl of Rice & Beans on this Thanksgiving Day.

I’m only eating this single bowl of organic wild rice and beans on this Thanksgiving Day.

Most Americans, however, will be sitting around the table with family and friends eating turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy with all of the traditional trimmings that come with this federal holiday established by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

While I’m eating my single bowl of rice and beans on this Thanksgiving Day, I will remember that nearly 48 million Americans, or nearly 15 percent of the total U.S. population, woke up today living in poverty.

I will remember with every bite that each of these American families is stressed about where their next meal will originate. I will think about the poor’s plight as Republicans prepare to give tax cuts to multi-national corporations at the expense of the middle class and the working poor—if we don’t stand up and demand Congress to vote “no” on their disastrous tax plans.

As I eat my single bowl of rice and beans, I will appreciate each bite with the same level of gratitude that I have for the fact that I have access to food on a daily basis. As I take another bite, I will remain mindful of the acute challenges that humanity confronts as a result of population growth and related food security issues.

When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day, he hoped that all Americans could experience gratitude for “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” Today, as I eat my single bowl of rice and beans, I will be immensely grateful for nature, the fields, and skies upon which we are dependent.

Today, I will remain mindful that I have the luxury of making the choice to eat a single bowl of rice and beans while others may not even have a meal, and definitely not a choice to go without one.

I will feel and express my gratitude for all that I have, even in the midst of an orgy of spiritual materialism that begins this evening before Black Friday and continues through December 25th as we celebrate the annual ascent of American gluttony and rampant consumerism in the name of Jesus Christ.

As I eat my single bowl of rice and beans, I will remember the small farmers of America who are now myth, while acknowledging the plight of small farmers around the world who can’t compete with large agricultural interests dependent on corporate welfare, in the form of subsidies, that decreases productivity, and minimizes profits for small farmers.

As I eat my single bowl of rice and beans, I’ll think about the Wall Street investors that finance the degradation of our soils in America, and abroad, as they back big corporate agricultural interests to produce low quality food for consumers to buy. I will remember that they are those who finance the clear-cutting of forests worldwide and destroy the plains and prairies as they convert the land to expand commercial agricultural operations, while remembering that we are ultimately responsible as consumers.

I will remember to take actions to protect Earth’s soils that are being further degraded due to large inputs of artificial fertilizers, chemicals, and pesticides that ultimately undermine the long-term productivity of lands, and the health of humanity.

As I eat my single bowl of rice and beans, I will remember that the primary cause of land degradation is human population growth, which furthers both desertification and deforestation. I will remember that for most of Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, there were no people, while holding gratitude for our fellow Homo sapiens that have evolved over the last 200,000 years, making it possible for me to be here today.

As I eat, I will remain mindful that we are going to need more food to feed more people as we move into the future. I will remember that the human population for most of our history was less than 500 million people until the agricultural revolution commenced around 12,000 years ago. I will remember the year 1800 when the human population increased to one billion people for the first time in Earth’s history. I will remember that in 1999, the population was six billion and then think about the 1.3 billion people that have been added to the Earth in the last 17 years, bringing our current population to 7.3 billion.

I will be grateful for every bite of my rice and beans as I think about how we currently produce enough food but fail to distribute it to hundreds of millions of people who go hungry each day. I will remain grateful that I am not one of the thousands who literally starve to death because they don’t have access to the foods produced, even when there is enough to go around.

As I eat my single bowl of rice and beans today, I will remember that 12.3 percent of Americans, or 15.6 million American households confronted food insecurity at some point during 2016.

With each bite, I will remember the 795 million people who go hungry worldwide every day. I will remain mindful of the one in nine who suffer from chronic malnourishment (FAO) and the 21,000 people who die from malnutrition each day, including today.

As I eat every bite of my single bowl of rice and beans today, I will remember that I, along with my fellow Americans, waste 27 million tons of food each year.

I will remember that minimizing food waste can have a huge impact and express my gratitude for those who work to minimize it. I will remember to eat my leftovers every other day after today since I won’t have any leftovers after my single bowl of rice and beans.

Given that Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be about giving thanks, I felt that there was no better way to feel and experience gratitude than by being mindful and eating less today in solidarity with all of those who do not have the same choices that I have in life.

I have plenty to be grateful for each day, so going without a big Thanksgiving Day meal isn’t actually much of a sacrifice given that I can choose to eat nearly anything I want every day, or visit friends and family as I please over the course of the year. More than anything, I just want to be grateful for all that I have and this is my way of feeling it in the most explicit way possible.

I made this choice in solidarity with the 3.5 billion people who rely on rice each day as their main source of calories to survive. And, I do it in solidarity with all those who share in gratitude today.

Here’s to gratitude, and a truly Happy Thanksgiving.


Relephant read:

A Buddhist Thanksgiving.

Author: Dr. Matthew Wilburn King
Image: Author’s Own & Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Emily Bartran
Social editor: Waylon Lewis

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Kate Farrell Nov 11, 2018 2:34pm

And thank you for leaving turkey off your plate to remember the innocent beings slaughtered in the millions.

Dr. Matthew King Aug 1, 2018 9:57pm

Travis May Thank you for reading and sharing your comment, I'm truly grateful. You can follow my most recent on my FB Author Page, which is here: http://www.facebook.com/drmatthewking If you'd like to be notified by email when new articles become available, you can sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/dBwMWP Warmly, Matthew

Dr. Matthew King Aug 1, 2018 9:57pm

Biancas Horses, Thank you for reading, I'm truly grateful. You can follow my most recent on my FB Author Page, which is here: http://www.facebook.com/drmatthewking If you'd like to be notified by email when new articles become available, you can sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/dBwMWP Warmly, Matthew

Travis May Nov 24, 2017 9:06pm

That sentence seems to be saying that people use Jesus to promote consumerism. It's not a swipe at him or Christianity at all. You just misread it.

Biancas Horses Nov 23, 2017 9:36pm

"Rampant consumerism in the name of Jesus Christ " would be a low swipe at Christianity and an incorrect one. The message of Jesus is peace, love and hope for humanity. A message that is free and not attached to materialistic things. Jesus was born into humble circumstances and his message is/was to store up wealth of the soul rather than accumulate material things: Matthew 19:21 " Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. " Jesus promoted charity of the heart and there are many references instructing Christians to take care of the poor and the widowed, the fatherless etc. It is humankind alone that took the message of giving spiritually and twisted it around to make it about material things. The entire spending circus and consumerism of the festive season ( once known as Christmas) now revolves around the secular man in the red suit " Santa" a fictional character devised and built upon/ celebrated by people as a diversion from the true message of Christ. Likewise "Thanksgiving" as I understand it is about being thankful for the harvest, and provisions made to the pilgrims.. Would this not be "mindfulness?" I suggest for those truly thinking of the needy and the many who go without, if a person truly cares they will be out there giving back this Thanksgiving and Christmas time, by volunteering their time at many of the truly charitable organisations out there on the front lines helping feed the hungry. If a person truly cares, they will be donating funds and quality goods, fundraising for reputable charity organisations and giving volunteer time. Eating a plate of beans, posting a photo of it on social media and generally ' thinking about it's doesn't help solve the problem. Getting hands on, taking action and volunteering your time with a reputable charity does help. Dr King I recommend you pop down to your closest soup kitchen and put in some quality volunteer time helping out. You will look your fellow human in the eye and help feed them a good meal. Few are brave enough to step up to the challenge but volunteers are sorely needed. The rewards, those of enrichment of the soul, are priceless. God Bless x

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Dr. Matthew King

Dr. Matthew Wilburn King is an American author, international consultant, and “creative” residing in Boulder, Colorado. Matthew’s ultimate purpose in life is to live, love and learn. He has two decades of experience conducting research and development, leading projects, writing and delivering strategies in the fields of environmental governance, sustainable development, and social entrepreneurship. He’s worked for government, universities, non-profits and the private sector. He consults and advises leaders worldwide.

Matthew has been to every Continent on Earth with the exception of Antarctica, completed expeditions to over 30 countries, lived in five and studied and conducted research in four—completing his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge.

He has published academic and popular literature for the BBC, Journal of Biological Conservation, Marine Policy Journal, Earth Island Journal, World Watch Institute, U.N. Environment Program, U.N. Peacebuilding Commission, One Earth Future Foundation, U.S. Department of State, NOAA Research, Boulder Magazine, Mantra Magazine Yoga + Health, among others, as well as given talks around the world. He was 1/365 Authors selected to contribute to Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet alongside Dr. Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, The 14th Dalai Lama, Stephen Hawking, Maya Angelou, Justin Trudeau, and others.

He is a former US Presidential Management Fellow, a Founding Member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association, a post-graduate Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Kinship Conservation Fellow, and a Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. He is the Founder, President, and Chairman of the COMMON Foundation, serving people, planet, and peace. His biggest journey, thus far, has been his current one, from head to heart. You can find him here at COMMON Foundation, King’s Newsletter, King’s Creations, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Amazon Author Profile