Thanksgiving is the time of year when we stop to reflect on all we have to be grateful for.
For me and my family, it’s that we came through a sudden, serious health crisis, intact.
Deep down we all know how fragile life is and it sometimes it takes tragedy or a close call to remind us to pay attention to the important, irreplaceable people and things in our lives like each other and our health. This also applies to the natural world around us.
We have much to be grateful for and we all share the responsibility of taking care of it. I recently read several articles, one from the Chicago Botanic Garden and another from Penn State University Extension Office, that talked about why we should be grateful for plants and nature.
I would like to share a few of those reasons with you. Like to breathe? Plants, through photosynthesis, are the major source of the air we breathe.
Like to eat? Plants also provide us with all our food, either directly or indirectly. Fruits and vegetables, whether from our own gardens, the farmers market, or your local grocery store, started with plants. Flour and sugar for our baked goods like the pumpkin pie you may be enjoying, started with plants. Meat and dairy come from animals that forage on plants.
Plants like cotton, bamboo, hemp and flax provide materials for our clothing and linens. Wool comes from animals that forage on plants.
Most of our modern medicines originate from plants. Up to 50 percent of the approved drugs during the last 30 years, are either directly or indirectly from natural products. Taxol, a powerful cancer-fighting drug, comes from the taxus or yew plant.
Cannabidiol from the cannabis plant and capsaicin active compound from capsicum annuum are used as pain relievers.
Plants also help heat our homes. Some plants, like wood, we use directly in fireplaces and stoves. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil, are derived from plants that lived millions of years ago.
The world is full of wonders. We have one earth that we all share and count on to provide us with what we need to live healthy lives. This Thanksgiving let’s all offer up a prayer of thanks for plants and all they provide us with.