I have much to be thankful for. First and foremost, I’m thankful for my family and my health. Once you have those two things, everything else is pretty much gravy. This being Thanksgiving time, it’s the gravy I want to write about it.

I’m thankful that I get to write about food, a passion of mine for the past 30 years. It’s a privilege to do what I do. For me, that means it’s my responsibility to write about more than meals good and bad. While I want to continue sharing my restaurant discoveries with you, I think it’s my duty to also report about the ills of a food system gone off the rails and point out solutions wherever they may be. 

Speaking of solutions, I’m thankful for urban farms. I believe one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, we’ve become so disconnected with the source of our food is because we seldom see where our food comes from. If we could see, for example, how turkeys are raised in vast windowless bunkers amid clouds of burning ammonia and filth, or how industrial agriculture must plow ever greater quantities of chemicals into the soil, we would change what we eat in an instant.

Silicon Valley’s urban farms Veggielution, Full Circle Farm , pictured, and Charles Street Gardens not only provide their communities with a source of fresh produce, they’re building a constituency that understands where its food comes from and demands something better than the “cheap” food that dominates the market.

I’m thankful for immigration. Without newcomers from Mexico, Vietnam, China, Japan, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Korea and everywhere else, eating out in Silicon Valley would be dreadfully dull. Immigration makes Silicon Valley taste better.

Similarly, I’m grateful for ethnic food havens like El Camino Real, Keyes/Story Road and Calaveras Boulevard. Silicon Valley hasn’t exactly been awash in new restaurants, and whenever I’m hungry for something new, I just drive down one of these dynamic streets of eats, and I almost always find something new.

I’m thankful for chef/owners like David Kinch (Manresa), Joe Cirone (Hay Market), Nick Difu (Nick’s on Main), Josiah Slone (Sent Sovi), Masahiko Takei (Gochi) and Jesse Ziff Cool (Flea St. Cafe). It’s not easy owning a restaurant in the best of times. Going it alone without the backing of a chain or a hotel is risky business. The result of this risk-taking is food that’s a reflection of the chefs’ creativity, not a distant boardroom. Silicon Valley isn’t known for its chef-run restaurants, and we’re lucky have the ones we’ve got.

Finally, I’ve got to give thanks to my stomach. A food writer relies on his stomach as much as his brain. While my brain sometimes falters, my stomach is far more reliable. No matter what I put in it—or how much—it hardly ever complains, doesn’t keep me up at night and is ready for more a few hours later. Thanks, belly of mine!