Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Celebrate Labor Day

Reflect on the Purpose of Labor Day

Labor Day has always been a day in which I reflect on the accomplishments and sacrifices workers have made for equality, safety, and wages. It's about respect. It's about being fair. The importance of Labor Day was instilled in me when I was a child. You see, both sets of my grandparents migrated to Detroit, Michigan in the early 1900s to find better opportunities. Big Daddy, my father’s father, migrated from Pulaski, Tennessee to Detroit. And Papa, my mother’s father, migrated from Columbus, Mississippi to Detroit. Both men brought their wives with them and eventually bought houses on the same street--three houses down from each other. The couples became friends, and many years later, their children became friends. Eventually, my father and mother fell in love and married. 

Papa worked for Michigan Central Railroad, which operated out of Michigan Central Depot.

HistoricDetroit, 2015
When my siblings and I were children, Mama always told us how important Labor Day was to Papa because he had experienced many hardships like so many other African Americans. Migrating to Detroit meant better opportunities for him, and he was able to find a steady job with Michigan Central Railroad. The working conditions were better for him in the North than it had been for him in the South. And the union accepted African Americans.

Reflect on the Work that Needs to Done
Although Americans have made great strides in improving equality, safety, and wages, we must remember that many Americans are still working to further improve conditions. Moreover, working conditions for children, women, and men in other parts of the country are not so great. Learn more about the products you buy. Who makes them? What are the working conditions for the employees? You have a voice and a choice. Let the companies know how you feel if they exploit their workers. Buy from a company that respects its workers.

Simplify the Day
Labor Day is usually the last holiday my family and I enjoy celebrating outdoors. When my children were younger, it was also a time when I began preparing for back-to-school by buying school clothes and school supplies. It was a busy time of year, so I always tried to simplify our Labor Day dinner. Here’s one of my Labor Day recipes. It’s simple and guilt-free. I love to cook meals that don’t leave you feeling guilty because of high calories or harmful ingredients.

Loaded Baked Potatoes
·         organic white (or sweet) potatoes
·         sautéed toppings: chopped kale, spinach, red peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms (leftovers work well)
·         fresh chopped/sliced toppings: jalapeno peppers, green onions, and herbs such as chives and basil
·         extra virgin olive oil
·         shredded organic cheddar cheese
·         plain yogurt (I recommend Maple Hill Creamery yogurt made from grass fed cows)  
·         sliced/chopped cooked meat: smoked salmon, grilled chicken, beef, etc.
·         salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in the microwave for approximately 4-6 minutes per potato, depending on their size (16 minutes for 4 small white potatoes). Chop and sauté veggies separately in extra virgin olive oil. Warm the cooked meat. Slice/chop raw veggies. Arrange items on a large platter. (However, I recommend placing cheese and yogurt in separate bowls.) For a dramatic presentation, put items in separate serving dishes. 

This is my favorite serving dish for this recipe:
individual serving dishes fit inside a metal tray.

To assemble, cut the potatoes lengthwise, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and add salt and pepper. Add toppings, and top with cheese and yogurt. Don’t forget to eat the skin of the potatoes to increase nutrition. Enjoy!

What Labor Day traditions do you have? This is the story in you. Share it. 


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