The Quest for Local Thanksgiving Ingredients

Challenge: At your next holiday dinner, point to something on your plate and ask “where did this come from?”

thanksgiving dinner plate

Does you know where that turkey was raised? Who picked those carrots? If they don’t, then that’s fine, it’s pretty much the norm in modern America.  I hope your host is as good a cook as our moms are, at least.  And at least you’re eating some vegetables!

But let’s imagine if you knew the turkey came from a farm the next town over, the butternut squash from a neighbor’s garden, the stuffing made from day old bread from the baker at the farmers’ market? What a story that dinner has to tell! And I guarantee you will enjoy the food all the more knowing where it came from. Suddenly you can taste the local air and earth that is completely missing in bland grocery store food. You can think about how you’re supporting the local economy and making the lives of your friends and neighbors better, rather than lining the pockets of executives at food corporations.

And hey, eating local is kind of IN right now, isn’t it? So even if you don’t care about happy turkeys or flavorful carrots, you can at the very least be pretty chic by eating local for the holidays. Impress your in-laws for once!

"I love local food!"
“I love local food, sonny!”

So if you’re like us and want to really give a sense of community and thankfulness to your holiday dinners this year, we urge you to seek out more local ingredients. And don’t start at the grocery store–not even Whole Foods. Here are some ideas for where you can look first:

Farmers’ Markets and Holiday Fairs

Everywhere we’ve lived in NH there have been farmers’ markets almost year round. Even up here in the middle of the frozen woods we can visit the meeting house in Tamworth on Saturdays and find local meat and vegetables that are missing from our own harvests. A lot of areas also host holiday fairs and holiday markets, and often farmers are there with their wonderful local goods.

The great thing about a farmers’ market is that you get to find out what farms are near you and really know the story of the food. And you can meet new friends, socialize, and maybe even hear some good music from a local musician.

Don’t know how to find your local market? Check the local paper’s events section, google “farmers’ market near me”, or just look for the signs around towns near you. Most farmers’ markets make an effort to have a web presence, so it really shouldn’t be that hard to locate the nearest one.

Farmers’ Market resources on the Web

If you are a fan of doing efficient research from your computer or phone, you can usually find out about a lot of the local farms simply by visiting your local farmers’ market website, Facebook page, or whatever it is they have online. They will often list local vendors or will probably be happy to tell you if you contact them. Then you can visit or contact farms directly!

Local paper

Some farmers, especially smaller ones or those in less prominent locations, keep it simple and just put a listing in the local paper. This is how some local farmers sell their turkeys near us. Maybe you’ll be surprised to see how many local people have something to sell that you’d normally buy at a corporate store.

Direct from the farm – farm stand or CSA

This is the real endgame we’re looking for to get local food.  A lot of local farms have farm stands that are open up to through holidays, brimming with winter squash, grass fed beef, and greenhouse goodies. You can usually just stop by and purchase some stuff during their business hours, just like any other store. Don’t be afraid, people who work in farm stands are notorious for being nice and passionate about the meat and produce they sell!

A great way to find local farms with farm stands is to seek out the website or other online presence (Facebook, Google Business, etc.). Not every farm is on there, but a lot are. Otherwise, you can stop by the local farmers’ market to ask around.

And even though it might seem too late, some farms offer CSAs (community supported agriculture, basically pre-ordered boxes of lots of good local food!). Ask if you can get in on it, or at least learn about their upcoming CSAs if they are already sold out. This is a fantastic way to add some adventure to your dinners, since you don’t always know what will have good harvests. We’ve been introduced so many vegetables we’d never heard of thanks to CSAs.

Ask the guy with the sweet beard

Proven fact: 90% of guys with serious beards know a good local farmer. Avoid guys who always keep their beards too neat, they are unreliable and possibly con-men.

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Looking for new recipes for your holiday dinner?  We pulled together a complete menu with easy to prepare, local recipes that showcase farm raised ingredients in their pure form.  Click here to take a look!

 

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