Being thankful for good, nutritious food

With Thanksgiving around the corner we’ll soon be hearing a lot about food and how it’s produced. We can expect to hear plenty of loud statements about how food just doesn’t measure up if it’s not organically-raised food, or locally-grown, or hormone-free.

Food choice is important. But does it really make sense to condemn safe, nutritious food just because you don’t agree with how it is raised? That’s especially true today, when surveys show there are more people around the world—and right here in Iowa—who just don’t have enough to eat.

With the intense clamor these days about food, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that food is essentially about nourishment. That fact was driven home to me recently when my wife and I helped serve a meal at a homeless shelter in downtown Des Moines.

The shelter, only a few blocks from the bustling and pricey restaurants in the city’s restored Western Gateway area, was full on a Sunday evening. Men and women of all ages waited patiently as the volunteers warmed the food, which was prepared that afternoon.

The evening’s menu was simple: baked chicken, roasted potatoes and broccoli. “We wanted to serve a good meat and potatoes meal,” one of volunteers said.

Nearly every patron of the shelter stopped to thank us for the home-cooked meal and for volunteering our time to help them out.

Amid the appreciation for a good meal, I didn’t hear any inquiries about whether the chicken was raised in a free-range environment. Nobody asked if the potatoes were locally grown or if the broccoli was organic.

My experience that night made me wonder why certain food production methods are often being pushed by people who have always had plenty. Researchers refer to this as the “silver spoon” mentality of consumers who have never had to worry about having an abundant supply of safe, nutritious food.

If that’s their choice, that’s fine. But their choice should not dictate or diminish someone else’s choice.

That was really brought home to me that cool November night as I helped serve to people who don’t have plenty and really appreciated a hearty, home-cooked meal.

As the holiday season approaches it’s good to remember those in need. A good place to donate is Iowa Food Bank Association at or (319) 272-2180.

Written by Dirck Steimel
Dirck is the news services manager for Iowa Farm Bureau.