I’d by lying if I said that I knew anything about Hawaii before my third visit just a few weeks ago. I’d been to The Big Island twice, spent some time sequestered away at two pristine resorts, clinking celebratory glasses of champagne as I toasted two separate friends’ and family weddings.

But Maui was a new island for me, certainly one that I’d been excited to visit. I’d heard the stories of long-ago spring break vacations, Maui being the destination of choice for my West Coast family. But through the open nature of Instagram and the world wide web, new stories emerged from friends who actually grew up there. I heard of the tide and the flora, the wild beauty, the technicolor sunsets. It seemed so lush, so vivid, and who doesn’t dream of having a coffee plantation in her backyard.

Montage Kapalua Bay Resort

When invited to visit the newly-revamped Montage Kapalua Bay Resort in Maui, I jumped at the chance. The itinerary was filled to the Hawaiian gills with adventures both at the resort and beyond, letting us explore the island’s varied microclimates, from Kapalua Bay to Upcountry Maui, giving us a true sense for Mother Maui herself.

My husband, always keen to have a copy of my itinerary when I travel in case of emergency, asked me to forward my information to him at work. The file somehow became ensnared in his company’s firewall, requiring tech team intervention. In order to make sure that the information was legitimate, Rodney had to answer a set of questions regarding the material in question. “Is your wife going on a wellness trip?” Yes. “Will your wife be doing yoga?” Yes. “Lomi Lomi massage?” Yes. “Snorkeling.” Check. Although pure conjecture, I can imagine that in synchronized fashion, both Rodney and the chief firewall engineer were savoring frighteningly poor career choices.

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turkey thanks_feedmedearly 080

Today is a day for giving thanks. And thanks we give – for health, for family, for friendships, and happiness.

We sit down to a table laden with food. Our treasured recipes, the soup, the salads, the sides, and that most-loved Thanksgiving food of all: the turkey.

It’s easy to get swept up in the romance of Thanksgiving – the traditions, and the excitement of seeing friends or family members who we don’t often see. The meal, in all of its splendor, often becomes a reflection of what the cook did with the ingredients, not the ingredients themselves.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s not just about what I’ve put on the table, but what came before that. The farmers who dedicate their lives to growing our crops, and the animals whose lives were sacrificed.

As a Canadian, I can’t vote in the US where I now make my home, so I vote with my everyday purchases. At the top of this list, comes the food that I buy. I’m not perfect when it comes to buying food. I have a weakness for junky salt & vinegar chips, and the occasional processed grilled cheese sandwich. But when it comes to buying meat, there is no question: it needs to have been humanely raised by farmers who care about the animals, and treat them well from birth to slaughter.

This year, I bought our turkey at the Knickerbocker Market in New York City. The store owner and butcher Mike is a food scientist, and knows his meat better than just about anyone I know. Having built a relationship with Mike over the years, I know that whatever I buy from him has met his own high quality standards.

A respect for food is something that I hope to pass on to my kids. Even though my kids are young, it’s important to teach them to be thankful for what we eat. I want them to understand that choosing our foods is always just that – a choice. We can pick the good stuff – the foods that have been farmed or grown with care, or we can choose the junk.

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