Giving thanks for the sharing economy

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As is obvious from my writing style and cooking methods, I am not a millennial. I was born somewhere in between the Baby Boom and Gen X. However, this does not mean that I can’t embrace and give thanks for a millennial phenomenon – the sharing economy. Make no mistake, I am not crediting millennials with inventing the sharing economy. They just transferred it from rural areas to urban areas creating all the necessary encumbrances required when you are sharing with strangers instead of neighbors. I’d like to take this time of Thanksgiving to recognize and give thanks to our local food sharing community that has blessed me with all sorts of food stuffs, recipes, advice, and readers.

In describing our local food economy to someone, I try to find an access point to help them envision our bountiful world. Are they a locavore? We are one of the only places in Colorado, and perhaps all the Western U.S., with a weekly livestock sale and a flour mill within city limits. To say nothing of our plentiful and nearly year-round (with numerous hoop houses) supply of fruit and vegetables. We have summer and winter farmers’ markets. The Sharehouse is extending the offerings of fresh food to all parts of our community with gleaning operations and food giveaways. Yet, very few locavore blogs recognize that this is all happening within a 100-mile radius.

Is the person a foodie looking for the next secret ingredient to slip into a new recipe? We have an amazing variety of fruit, vegetables, and meat all grown in the unique terroir of red dirt at 7000 feet in elevation. We have some of the oldest and rarest apple varieties in the U.S. growing all around us. Where else can you purchase naturally grown Highland beef, hogget (a one-year old lamb), and pork in the same place, but at the Cortez Farmers’ Market? The variety of local fruits and vegetables is astounding. This year I tried Hopi blue squash and walking onions for the first time. I look forward to next year when I can grow these myself and search out the next new variety.

Personally, I am most thankful for the community of gardeners and home cooks who graciously share their advice and expertise when I find myself in yet another pickle. This year my adventures in canning the abundance of cherries, apricots, and plums required a bit of coaching to sort through my failures in gelling and sealing my jams. How could I get my problems diagnosed if I could not hang out in front of Bessie’s stall? Sure, I could Google that Sh*t. But then I must select from thousands of answers that may not fully consider all my specific issues. I wouldn’t think to include the fact that I didn’t boil the lids in my search, because I took a shortcut and skipped that step. Or I could purchase a solution from Amazon for $29.95 and have it delivered in two-days, more or less. But I am reluctant to invest money in a mistake. I am so grateful to be surrounded by men and women who freely offer advice and solutions that use equipment and ingredients to hand. But even more, they are always confident in my ability to succeed and celebrate when I finally get it right (and follow the instructions to the letter). Their support and guidance are what give me the courage to try something new, fail, and write about it each month.

So, here’s to our gracious, abundant, beautiful, and unique local food community. I wish you all a happy and healthy harvest celebration and holiday season. Thank you!

Carolyn Dunmire is an award-winning writer who gardens and cooks in Cahone, Colo.

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From Carolyn Dunmire.