Friday, November 14, 2008

Make Sure There's Some Local Harvest on Your Thanksgiving Table

Anyone who has been through third grade can tell you that what the pilgrims were celebrating at the first Thanksgiving was the harvest. Those construction paper cornucopias that every 8 year old creates don't have green bean casseroles or sweet potato casseroles (YUM!) coming out of them. They have things like gourds and hard tri-color corn. Things that are rarely found on our Thanksgiving table today.

I grew up with what is in modern times considered the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. A stuffed turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, jelled cranberry sauce from a can, Mrs. Paul's candied sweet potatoes (which my mom would do in the microwave and most years forget about and we'd find them the next day in the microwave), and rolls. All of these things bought at the grocery store, and most of them originating 100's, if not 1000's, of miles away.

The food on my Thanksgiving table doesn't really differ much from the food that was on my mom's. I've switched out the Mrs. Paul's for a sweet potato casserole and cook fresh green beans and serve them sans mushroom soup and onion rings. This year, although, I don't plan on disturbing my menu too much, I do plan on changing one thing. I'm buying as much of my food from local sources.

I can get a turkey from a local farm and my farmer's market stays open until the week before Thanksgiving so I'll be buying cranberries, green beans, my sweet potatoes and whatever else I can from local growers.

There are many people out there who are looking to the rules of the 100 mile diet (eating only food that is grown or raised with 100 miles of your home) for their Thanksgiving feast. I admire that. I really do. For me, and my family, that would mean changing too much of our menu. I'm not ready to do that.

But, whatever I can find that is local that fits in with my current menu, I'm going to try my best to get. It's better for the environment and it supports my local farmers. It also honors the spirit of Thanksgiving. See, those pilgrims and their Native American guests weren't celebrating with food shipped in from California. It was all local. It didn't even follow the rules of the 100 mile diet. It followed the reality of the 100 foot diet. Whatever they could grow in their own fields or raise on their own farms - that's what they ate.

What is grown in your region that you can put on your Thanksgiving table? Can you commit to buying it?
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