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Thanksgiving Foods Then, And Now

There’s one day out of the year devoted to this connection. (We think there could be a few more, roughly 364, but that’s just us.) Thanksgiving: a day where food, health, and happiness take root and perennial memories sprout. The word ‘Thanksgiving’ is almost a paragraph in and of itself. Think about all the sights, sounds, smells, etc. associated with one little word… you could daydream for a week. (...or 51 weeks) Thanksgiving dates back to 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians sat down to celebrate the first autumn harvest. It wasn’t until much later that Sarah Hale, who was born in New Hampshire, championed the creation of a national holiday in 1863.

The first meal lasted three days. While it may have included turkey, it more likely featured seafood, shellfish, venison, and the much smaller quail. The protein usually steals the show at a big meal such as Thanksgiving, but there were other fruits and veggies served. Clearly they were not grown in a greenhouse, our Rimol ancestors weren’t on the shores yet; the side dishes were grown and found in fields.

Today, our tables are filled with, but hopefully not limited to: potatoes, corn, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and cranberries. Did the first Thanksgiving feature all of these common delicacies? No, it did not. We’re not exactly sure what was mashed for this meal, but it wasn’t your gravy lathered potatoes. The Spanish are credited with bringing potatoes to Europe in 1570. They would not have been popular enough to make it to England by 1620 and therefore did not have a place on the Mayflower.

Other vegetables that might have been on the menu are onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and peas. The settlers would have worked hard for months to work the soil and, with the help of the Native Americans, cultivate all of these crops.

Cranberries would have been eaten, but not as Ocean Spray serves it now. There was not enough sugar remaining from the trip to make a sweet sauce. If you have ever had a raw cranberry you know, they are quite tart. Other fruits that are native to New England are blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, and raspberries. They would have most likely been served as a “sweet” accompaniment.

Sadly, there were no pies at the first Thanksgiving. Not ones with a dollop of whipped cream on top anyway, although the pilgrims had similar intentions. Pumpkin did have a place at the feast, but it is thought that the gourds would have been hollowed out and filled with milk, honey and spices then roasted over an open fire.

Though the meal itself was drastically different, the meaning remains unchanged: Bringing people together through the power of harvest.

We want to make sure that this meaning becomes more prevalent every other day of the year. Commercial farming has come a long way, but we are by no means out of the woods. With populations growing, and natural resources such as water scarce in major food producing states, we aren’t 100% food secure, yet. Rimol is actively involved in several research and development projects that will be announced in the coming months. If you are thinking about adding a greenhouse to your commercial farming operation call one of our greenhouse experts to see what product will be right for you.

From everyone at Rimol, we want to wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and although you should thank everybody who prepared the meal, be more thankful that you’re sharing it with them.