Giving Thanks

Hello Friends,

I have a question for you: what does Thanksgiving mean to you?

This holiday has always been my favorite because it means lots of food, family, and an intentional pause in our busy lives to give thanks for the good and, even sometimes, the bad.

Thanksgiving evokes memories of being in the kitchen with my female relatives, learning how to make the gravy without lumps. It brings back that teenage longing to sit at the grown-up’s table. It makes me think of all of the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and those soft dinner rolls. I especially miss my maternal grandmother during the holidays. She had a soft voice, but she was the family director. We sang songs, played games, and generally went where she told us. She was the gravy master. I was just the muscle to whisk it seemingly forever.

The other thing this holiday brings up is the story I was taught as a child: Pilgrims and Indians making friends. My ancestors signed the Mayflower compact. In the past, this was a point of pride! Thinking about how my relatives shaped this nation into what it is today.

It was not until recently that I learned that the story of the original Thanksgiving was largely a myth. In fact, the holiday of Thanksgiving was created during the Civil War as a way to bring a divided nation together (sound familiar?). It’s not just a myth, it’s an active cover for the atrocities that were suffered upon the indigenous people of the area, the Wampanoag. The pilgrims were able to establish a foothold on Cape Cod because a plague of European origin had just recently gone through the population of the area, killing an estimated 70-90% of the people living there. Yes, the Wampanoag helped the pilgrims survive by showing them how to plant crops. But also, the pilgrims raided graves and massacred entire villages.

I’m glad I know this history. I need to know that my ancestors stole this land and that their survival was based on the knowledge of the Wampanoag and the many other indigenous peoples who had cultivated this land for thousands of years.

I’m also thankful for the indigenous leaders who are speaking out and giving us hope. I highly recommend that you read this article by Sam Sherman, aka The Sioux Chef. His words inspired my message to you today. And I think he finishes his story perfectly:

“No matter where you are in North America, you are on indigenous land. And so on this holiday, and any day really, I urge people to explore a deeper connection to what are called “American” foods by understanding true Native-American histories, and begin using what grows naturally around us, and to support Native-American growers. There is no need to make Thanksgiving about a false past. It is so much better when it celebrates the beauty of the present.”

Let’s start celebrating indigenous foods: Did you know that a huge number of the foods we eat are indigenous in origin? Maple syrup, squash, pumpkins, beans, corn, wild rice, tomatoes, potatoes, and turkey!

Here’s a recipe from the Sioux Chef. This article gives lots more indigenous recipes.

Maple-Brined Smoked Turkey

Recipe courtesy of The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley

Serves 10 to 12

  • 10-pound turkey with giblets removed
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons whole juniper berries
  • 1 large sprig sage
  • 4 to 6 cups wood chips (hickory, apple, or hazelnut)
  • Sunflower oil for rubbing the turkey

1. Place the turkey in a large container (a food-safe bucket or big pot). In a saucepan, heat about 1 quart of the water with the salt until it dissolves. Cool. Then add the salt water, the remaining water, maple syrup, juniper berries and sage to the turkey. Make sure the turkey is fully submerged. Cover (weigh the turkey down, if necessary) and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Soak the wood chips in cold water for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the turkey and pat dry.

2. Prepare a charcoal grill or smoker for indirect heat, at about 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle in enough of the soaked wood chips to cover the coals and allow them to char.

3. Place the turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Brush the turkey with the sunflower oil. Place the turkey in the grill or smoker and cook until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 165°F, about 3½ to 4½ hours. Remove and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.


Farmers Market this week

Green Things Farm and The Farm at St. Joe’s will be at the Farmers Market at St. Joe’s Hospital tomorrow, Wednesday, November 27, from 11-1:30. Get your last minute Thanksgiving carrots, garlic, greens and more in the hospital lobby. Everyone is welcome to shop at our market!

We are thankful for all of our faithful customers. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Patients, staff and the community enjoy shopping at the St. Joe's Hospital Farmers Market.

Patients, staff and the community enjoy shopping at the St. Joe’s Hospital Farmers Market.

Market today. Just in time for Thanksgiving

Did you know you can make superior “pumpkin pie” with butternut squash? Just replace pie pumpkin with butternut squash in your favorite recipe.

Get your last minute Thanksgiving produce today from 11-5 in the main lobby of St. Joe’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

 Have a happy Thanksgiving from The Farm at St. Joe’s. I am thankful for all of your support and interest in our hospital farm.

Online Market Now Open for Lunasa Holiday Orders

The Lunasa shopping window is now open!  From Nov. 10-12, you can order pre-sorted holiday packages ranging from all-natural fresh turkeys, organic vegetables, bread bundles, dessert baskets and breakfast items from local farms – just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Farm at St. Joe is proud to partner with Lunasa to provide the community with hearty, healthy options and support our local farmers this holiday season.  St. Joe guests can order online this week only for a special delivery on Tuesday, November 22 at The Farm at St. Joe (5301 McAuley Drive, Ypsilanti, MI  48198). Please note that there are limited quantities available for this trial delivery and this offer applies only to the St. Joe’s Holiday Items category on the website.

If you have already created a free account at, simply login and place your order.   Signing up for a free account is easy.  Just click on “St. Joseph Shoppers” and you will be prompted to set up an account.  Use this universal password:  sjmholiday2011.

Choose one or more of these five delicious packages for St. Joe’s shoppers:

ALL-NATURAL THANKSGIVING TURKEYS. Clear Creek Farm (Bellevue) has free range, broad breasted, white naturally fed birds.  Fed with their own local, non-gmo feed and bred on their own no-spray farm (15+ years). $3.75 per pound for medium to large turkeys. 100 available. (Bellevue, MI)

TANTRE ORGANIC FARM HARVEST VEGETABLE SHARE – $40 Stock up your root cellar for the holidays!  This ¾ bushel, organic harvest combination will include some combination of the following: Carrots, Leeks, Turnips, Beets, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Winter Squash, Garlic, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach. 40 available. (Chelsea, MI)  

ZINGERMAN’S BAKEHOUSE BREAD & DESSERT BUNDLE – $45 The folks at Zing’s have put together a scrumptious bundle we can all be thankful for. This bundle includes your choice of 12 Farm, Multigrain or Brioche Rolls, your choice of one loaf of Pecan Raisin or Cranberry Pecan Bread and your choice of one large Pecan, Cranberry Walnut or Pumpkin Pie! 100 available. (Ann Arbor, MI)

ERNST FARM & WESTWIND MILLING CO. BREAKFAST IN BED – $40 Nothing beats the smell of pancakes and bacon on a brisk autumn morning, except maybe that of biscuits and pork gravy.  Each order includes a pound of bulk pork breakfast sausage, a pound of nitrate-free bacon, one package biscuit mix, one package pancake mix (milled from certified organic Michigan grown grains), one dozen free range eggs and one pint Michigan maple syrup.  50 available. (Ann Arbor, Linden and Dexter, MI)

LUNASA SAMPLER $35 Lunasa’s finest artisan producers have put together an exciting package including a 12 oz Bobilin honey bear, a world-class Mindo 30 gram chocolate bar, a pound of Mighty Good Coffee, a 2 ounce package of Iceni loose leaf tea, a Wolfe Orchard Michigan fruit jam and a bar of NaKee Naturals soap. Perfect for holiday gifting!  50 available. (Southeast Michigan).

If you have questions with the ordering process or selections, please contact Jane Pacheco of Lunasa at 734-330-4497.