Where Does Your Thanksgiving Come From?

Thanksgiving is near, and proponents of eating locally want us to think about where our turkeys (and cranberries and mashed potatoes) are coming from—or even better, join in the campaign to celebrate a 100-Mile Thanksgiving.

With the average food item traveling at least 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate, the movement to support locally and sustainably raised products is growing. As the annual harvest feast of Thanksgiving approaches, a campaign to encourage local foods at the dinner table is in full swing.

Announced last week on the Eat Local Challenge blog, the 100-Mile Thanksgiving encourages participants to source their holiday meal from within a hundred miles of where they live. While some participants are aiming at 100 percent local produce, others are choosing to prepare one local dish, or planning for a certain percentage of locally raised products (cranberries being a common exception for those living in bog-less areas, along with cinnamon and ginger for pumpkin pie).

The Washington Post picked up the story yesterday, looking at the beneficial impact of eating locally and quoting a local eater from Maryland. “‘If people made the effort even 20 percent to eat local, it would have a huge impact on the environment, the local economy and their communities,’ says Sarah Irani of Frederick.”

At the 100-Mile Diet website there are recipe and stories from participants, and the tone is definitely upbeat. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to talk about food, about the virtues of locally grown food, and to learn about and celebrate the special food resources and heritage,” writes one participant. Another points out that “Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter menus are the easiest to plan, as all feature seasonally available food.”

Others are focused on finding replacements for traditional favorites. “I’ve got a source for locally raised turkey and most of the vegetables,” writes one participant, “but what about ingredients used as back-up players … hello!—cinnamon is the bark of an Indonesian evergreen tree!”

Something tells me there wasn’t actually a lot of cinnamon in use at that first Thanksgiving, either. You could always go without and say you’re aiming for historical authenticity.