Born out of the eco-conscious movement, eating locally is one of the easiest and certainly most rewarding ways to support your environment and your local economy. Defined as staying within 100 miles in any direction from your house, locavores stand a good chance of finding something delicious growing even closer.
The supermarket is nice and shiny and all; but the spirit of the Thanksgiving traditional meal was based on what was immediately available. Cranberries and corn were regional items. Had the Pilgrims landed on Maui instead, we’d all be grilling mangoes and wondering if we’ll get Grandma’s poi recipe right. So if that avocado tree in your backyard is popping off, there’s no shame in serving up mashed guacamole this year instead of the potatoes. (You might want to hold the gravy though.)
If you’re going traditional with a turkey, source from a nearby farmer. You might end up paying slightly more but you gain invaluable amounts flavor and nutrition, not to mention the more humane treatment of animals coming from a small family farm. Today’s family farmer is more reminiscent of the olden days when people and families actually farmed their land than this country has seen in the last 50 years of industrialized mono-cropping and concentrated animal feeding operations. You can credit that shift to an awareness of the benefits from eating organic food and the move towards smaller farms and methods such as permaculture, which are gaining lots of attention.
Perhaps driving out to find farmers is not feasible for you this year. Instead, look up your local food co-op or independent natural food store or find a CSA program. They are much more likely to be bringing in the freshest regional items than the big chain natural food stores; and you can support both the local business and the farmers they’re sourcing from.
If you’re a guest this year and looking to bring a dish, dessert, wine or gift to a Thanksgiving meal, think local as well. Choose an independent bakery, or maybe some preserves you made from the summer’s last fruits. Check out some regional wineries—they are cropping up now in the most unexpected places. Or maybe there’s a local brewery that’ll do the trick. For a non-food gift, spend some time in a local gallery or art fair featuring hand made and regional crafts.
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