The real history of Thanksgiving isn’t quite as simple as Squanto feeding the pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. Throughout early American history, colonists declared thanksgiving celebrations to mark safe landings in the New World, political and military successes as well as successful harvests. Thanksgiving Day didn’t become a national holiday until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed a day of thanks, not for the harvest but for the stability of society in spite of the Civil War.

Despite the history, the simple story we should be teaching to our kids is that Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for the harvest—the local harvest that takes place right near our homes. We should be thankful not just for the delicious food on our tables but for all the benefits that local growers contribute to our lives and our country. The health of our nation and each one of us rests on the wellbeing of small family farms. When those prosper, our environment, economy and families all share in the good fortune.

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