Tag Archives: #plantsgiving

Underfoot: It’s #Plantsgiving Time Again!

By Susan Sprout

Last November, I was told about an interesting social media campaign in which people counted the number of plant species used in their Thanksgiving meals. #Plantsgiving creator, Chris Martine, is a biology professor at Bucknell University. He told me recently that he and his students are “getting geared up for it” again this year. Encouraging people to be mindful and count the plants used in the preparation of their family feasts, he brings attention to the large number of plants we rely on regularly and on special occasions. We should all do that as well! I love the thought, and more importantly, the act of giving thanks for everything. We don’t do it nearly enough – especially for the prodigious amounts of plants and plant products we use in our lives. What a great idea to count the blessings of plants as we make our Thanksgiving preparations!

Some of the plants and plant products Sue will use to cook a Plantsgiving feast this week!

Last year, I wrote down the 61 different species of plants I used cooking our family dinner, including all the cookies and desserts. I also grouped them based on their usage. It made me aware of the fact that many of them had performed more than one job in my recipes, and in the items I bought, too. For example, some of my “food veggies” were also used as natural dyes to make prepared and canned foods look more appetizing so I’d buy them. I discovered seven different kinds of grasses, some used for flour from their seeds, others for flavors like lemon grass, and sweeteners like sugar cane. I found gums, emulsifiers, and thickeners from Guar beans and carrageenan from seaweed, both adding body to liquids like eggnog or gluten-free products. Cellulose gum and gel made from unspecified wood or plant fiber were used to stabilize many off-the-shelf products I used. Potato starch isn’t just for mashed potatoes anymore, either! Species used as herbs, spices, extracts, and flavorings had the highest numbers. Can’t forget chocolate and vanilla. The sausage in the stuffing was even hickory smoked. Can’t believe how many oils I used – olive, sesame, safflower, and sunflower – for cooking and baking!  Then, twenty-three various fruits and vegetables and nuts upped the count. That’s before I counted beverages like coffee with flavored creamers containing soybean oil and tea, wine, fancy types of alcohol, and cider punch. 

This #Plantsgiving, think about plants beyond your mashed potatoes.

I will be counting my plant blessings again this year. Doing the count last year raised my awareness about what I eat now and made me a better consumer at the same time. I have been reading many more labels than I ever have!  And I will continue to give plants and trees my deepest thanks for being here, providing food, cover, shelter, oxygen, carbon sinks, posies, colored leaves, and more…much more! 

Thank you to Evergreen Wealth Solutions for sponsoring the blog this month!

From Underfoot to on your Table: Some thoughts on #Plantsgiving

Planning a #Plantsgiving

Given concerns over COVID-19, people all over the U.S. are making the tough choice to avoid gathering in large groups this Thanksgiving. Bucknell Professor Chris Martine, biology, and his botanical colleagues suggest that one way to still bring everyone together for the holiday is to join them in the 2020 edition of #PlantsGiving, a social media campaign in which people challenge one another to count the number of plant species used in their Thanksgiving meal. Learn more about #Plantsgiving here.

Below, Susan Sprout, shares some insight on some not-so-noticeable plants that are likely to be apart of your Thanksgiving meal.

By: Susan Sprout

I love the thought and act of giving thanks anytime. We don’t do it nearly enough. What a great idea to count the blessings of plants as part of Thanksgiving preparations! Plants provide so much to the human population of this planet and yet, we probably overlook their presence in many of the items we eat. So now is the time to take some time and to be mindful of the many unique and tasty ways in which we enjoy or eat or imbibe plants.

STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

By counting the number of different plant species used in our Thanksgiving feast and sharing the information, we are providing recognition due to all plants for their continuing support all these years. We should also look at this as a way to educate others – friends, family, students, all plant primary and secondary consumers – about their many and varied uses. This being said, you have probably guessed by now that I really love plants and enjoy telling their stories and sharing them with you. The plants that I report on most are natives or plants living here so long, everybody thinks they are natives. I would like to take this opportunity, since it’s Thanksgiving and #PlantsGiving, to tell you about some non-native plants you will probably use this week. They are spices used in pumpkin pies and muffins and breads. They are cinnamon and allspice.

My Ceylon cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum zeylandicum) and my allspice tree (Pimenta dioica) are tropical trees that live in my backyard during the warm months and inside the house the rest of the year. They are taller than I am, so the photos show their long, shiny, evergreen leaves instead of the whole tree. Cinnamon is a member of the Lauraceae Family like sassafras and bay leaves. Allspice is a member of the Myrtaceae Family like eucalyptus. Cinnamon can grow from 20 to 60 feet. I will definitely be keeping mine trimmed down to a manageable size. Some people are so surprised to find out the cinnamon powder is made from the inner bark of this tree, after it is striped off, bundled and allowed to ferment. The outer layer of bark is then scraped off and the inner bark is rolled into quills and allowed to dry. It is the second most popular spice in the USA, after black pepper. My allspice tree is native to the West Indies. Our ground allspice is made from the small green fruits that are picked in mid-summer and dried by the sun or in ovens. Its name reflects the fact that it has the aroma and flavor of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves combined.

Have a splendid #PlantsGiving. Some clues for your search:

  • Read labels, look for different types of gums in milk products and gluten-free baking mixes.
  • My favorite bread from Wegman’s has 17 different flours, seeds, and nuts. So, be vigilant!
  • Don’t forget herbs and spices.
  • There is corn starch in baking powder.
  • Check beverages for sugar and Stevia.
  • Don’t forget the wine!


Susan Sprout is the author of the recurring series, Underfoot, on the NPC blog. Catch up on past issues of Underfoot: Introduction & BloodrootTrout Lily & ColtsfootBlue Cohosh & Dutchman’s BreechesGround Ivy & Forget-Me-NotsGoldthread & Wild GingerCommon Mullein & Sweet WoodruffAniseroot & Butterfly WeedMyself Jewelweed & SoapwortAmerican Pennyroyal & Great LobeliaBoneset & Common RagweedPokeweed & Blue ChicoryPrickly Cucumber & WintergreenBeech Drops & Partridge BerryPipsissewa & Nostoc, Witch Hazel.