Thanksgiving traditions vary among families, but the tie that binds us is the indulgent, gastronomic feast set on dinner tables across America on this holiday. We collectively pull up our chairs to gobble up pounds of savory food, and then unfasten the button of our pants to make room for sweet pumpkin pie. Photographer Matthew Carden's "Small World" photographs are a poignant, artistic reminder to cherish every tiny morsel of food this Thanksgiving. Finding bounty in each bite will help preserve the planet and foster a healthy, mindful approach to consumption.
Matthew Carden’s pictorial elicits an understanding of the paradox that food is both a whimsical pleasure and a precious, vital gift. Thanksgiving is the ideal backdrop for a glimpse into his “Small World,” where food is both celebrated and appreciated. Carden’s aim is to “make viewers more aware of what they eat, and to simply think about food as an integral part of our world.” Via the juxtaposition of tiny figures amidst “seemingly colossal” food, his photographs, “speak of abundance and the ultimate waste produced on a daily basis in our land of plenty.”
According to the National Turkey Federation, the turkey industry earned $13.9 billion in 2007. 235 million of the 271 million turkeys raised in 2007 were consumed by Americans, mostly on Thanksgiving. Clearly, food production is an enormous enterprise; which means as eco-conscious advocates, we must be aware of our relationship with food, how we purchase it, consume it, and dispose of it.
Thanksgiving is an opportune time to teach our children good, earth loving habits such as buying organic, locally grown foods, preparing and eating food mindfully, and composting or recycling food waste and byproducts, or perhaps going the vegan or vegetarian route. With these roots, our children will grow-up with healthy traditions, which will be instilled in future generations.
On a global scale, Slow Food (as opposed to ‘fast food’), is an organization which seeks to educate people with regard to their relationship to food. They “believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.” Slow Food also seeks to enrich the lives of children and foster their healthy relationship with food, through their Taste Education missions, which include planting gardens in schools from whence school lunches are made.
After feasting your eyes on Matthew Carden’s fun, insightful photographs, enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, and remember to serve up plenty of food for thought this holiday.