December 15, 2020
By Robin Kuehn
When sitting down at a holiday feast, do you ever think about what had to happen in order for the delicious food to appear in front of you? In my family, it’s traditional to give thanks to the people who cooked the food, and if we happen to know where it’s from, the people who grew the food too. Less common is thinking all the way back to the trees, shrubs, fields, or even seeds that the food grew from.
This year, we challenge you to think on that very subject! For many of these foods, their journey from tree, shrub or seed to your family’s meal would be impossible without the help of pollinators.
According to Pollinator Partnership, one in every three bites of food eaten by humans requires the help of birds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and other pollinators. These foods include coutless fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices. Don’t forget, even vegetables that don’t need pollinators to become food – like celery, beets, turnips and greens – still need their help making seeds for farmers and gardeners to plant next year! We can count meat, dairy and eggs among the foods that depend on pollinators as well; the UK organization Api:Cultural reminds us that most animal feeds include plants that are highly reliant on bees for these purposes, such as alfalfa, peas, soya beans, and clover. Many farm animals graze on grasses and grains that are wind-pollinated, but need the protein in peas, beans and other legumes for muscle growth and milk production. Isn’t it amazing how much impact such tiny insects can have on our lives?
Here’s our challenge for you: When you gather at your holiday feast, try to imagine which foods would disappear from the table if not for hard-working pollen-spreading animals. (You can check the lists at the links below for hints.) As many of us are planning a socially-distant holiday, this is a fun activity you can share and compare with friends and family in other places. If you’re really feeling ambitious, make a list of every food in your pantry and fridge that needs pollinators. You may even count the items in your shopping cart while in line at the store!
Once you’ve counted, share your list or number with friends and family! You can even let us know by sharing on our facebook page; or, take a picture of all of the foods together and post it to Instagram – be sure to tag #WVLTPollinators
To learn more about our efforts to protect local pollinators and to add your habitat to the pollinator pathway, visit https://wallkillvalleylt.org/pp/
And, as you’re cleaning up from your holiday feasting, be sure to save some of those gallon plastic jugs from milk and cider. Next month we’ll teach you the secrets of using them to start garden seeds outdoors – in January!