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Where your holiday meal came from

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Spanky, Tiller, Zeus, Lacy and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. This is probably the only time of year when you want to get three F’s, family, fun and food. I thought this would be an especially good time to focus on food.
Special dishes will grace many tables, only to be followed by many satisfied groans. We’re very lucky to have so much bounty, but did you take a moment to remember where all that food came from?
We have farmers the world over to thank for our food. Here it is, the beginning of winter and we have plates o’ plenty, because of them. Traveling by ships, airplanes and trucks, the produce section of the grocery is now filled with selections from around the world.
The tomatoes in the salad probably came from Australia. The green beans in the casserole may have had a shorter trip, only traveling from California. California produces 80 percent of the fruits and vegetables grown in America. Mexico, Central America and South America send the most produce to the U.S.
Besides filling our bellies, that imported produce affects our bottom line. Fruits and vegetable imports are creating a giant wave of red ink on the US trade balance sheet. While America may have exported $7 billion in fruits and vegetables to the world, we imported $13 billion and tomatoes, bananas and grapes lead the pack.
Apples, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, berries and lettuce are the top US exports to other countries. While US farmers work just as hard, we don’t have the mild weather that some of the other countries enjoy. We also want what we want, when we want it. That indulgence leads us to the trade deficit.
There are two things we can do to improve that situation. We can eat seasonal foods when they are in season, and we can grow and preserve our own bounty in the summer. Those two simple things could balance out those import/export numbers, affecting America’s bottom line for the positive. The power is in our hands, even if the weather isn’t.
As Mother Nature has pointed out to us numerous times, we can’t do much about the weather. Snow is our number one weather topic and now that winter has officially arrived, I thought it would be a good time to refresh our memory of winter lore found in the Farmer’s Almanacs of old.
Here are three of my favorites. A green Christmas equals a white Easter. If there is thunder in winter, it will snow seven days later. A halo ’round the moon means ’twill rain or snow soon. I’m especially fond of this last one.
Though the weatherman, or woman, may tell us to expect one thing, it’s always nice to look at the moon for confirmation. That halo, when it appears, is about as accurate as a new Timex, when it comes to predicting precipitation. I use it to decide whether to park the truck at the top of the hill, by the house, or the bottom.
Now, gather up the wrapping paper and burn it in the wood stove. Use the ashes on the garden and you’ll have a little Christmas in the summer. Your harvest will be bountiful in addition to saving you money. Think about it. When was the last time Christmas had a positive effect on your bottom line? Let’s be thankful for all the little miracles in life this holiday season and as always, Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.