How much do you know about the food that will fill your family’s table this Thanksgiving? Will you know where it came from or how it was produced? Before you give thanks, will your gratitude include that for not only food abundance, but food quality along with a healthy community? Here are 5 reasons to pick local Thanksgiving food whenever possible:
1. Local tastes great! The closer, the fresher, the more you can enjoy food the way it was intended, with more nutrients for vegetables the less time they’ve been out of the ground.
2. Local can be fun! Maybe a local farm visit can be part of the adventure of discovering where your potatoes were dug or the greens were grown.
3. Local can be preserved from your own garden. You can be frugal and practice #CleanCouponing by using the pole beans you canned late last summer for this special meal.
4. Local saves energy. When you buy from farms closer to you, it cuts down on fuel and perhaps even on packaging.
5. Local CAN encourage sustainable, non-GMO, organic practices! Every time you seek out local farm goods produced with organic methods (even if not certified USDA organic) and ask politely questions about pesticide use, genetically engineered grains and so forth, you are encouraging local farmers to produce more wholesome food. On special occasions, this is NOT the time to nitpick about how many dollars per pound you may pay for a pasture-raised turkey that hasn’t been adulterated with growth-inducing drugs. If you must buy some non-local food in order to find organic, that’s understandable. But this is a time when many farmers are eagerly watching and waiting to see if their extra efforts to move toward organic standards will pay off. Let’s not let them down. Even if you live in a household like mine where not all the adults agree that the quality of food matters, try compromising with at least some local, organically grown food. Can’t buy the pasture raised turkey this year? How about at least supporting the guy with the organic greenhouse or the young female farmer who just risked her life savings to raise a field full of squash? Not sure where to connect? Look for farmers’ markets (even if they’re closed for the winter, you can find them online), call the county extension service, or visit a local food cooperative.