With Thanksgiving just a little over a week away, food is on everybody’s mind. Thanksgiving originated as a way to celebrate the Pilgrim’s bountiful autumn harvest. So, to me it seems fitting that we honor our farmers on this day.
The foods we consider Thanksgiving’s traditional foods: turkey, cranberries and pumpkin should come from farms that use sustainable growing methods, and that look at the growing of food as the gift that it is, not simply as a commodity.
Planning the Thanksgiving feast is often stressful enough, trying to make it a sustainable one can make it seem overwhelming. That’s one reason that Slow Foods USA has created a guide to help you create your own Slow Food Thanksgiving.
The site offers links to information and sources of heritage turkeys as well as heirloom, indigenous and endangered foods. While heritage turkeys are expensive, you get a turkey that is more flavorful, supports small family farms that raise animals humanely and that will help keep these historical animals safe from extinction. Less expensive alternatives to a heritage turkey include finding a certified organic or locally grown bird or a pastured or free-range turkey.
Slow Food’s tips for making a slow thanksgiving include shopping for fresh, seasonal, and local foods at a farmers market and taking the time to learn about where your food comes from and how it was raised.
They also remind us to give thanks for the labor that brought your food to your table and the earth that grew it. This is something that I think most of us don’t even consider when we sit down at a special meal. Those that advocate for a truly sustainable food system do include the labor and environmental costs that go into producing our food and there’s probably no better time than Thanksgiving to do that.
While it is always preferable to cook with as many seasonal, fresh and local ingredients as possible for better health and for the environment, those who live in areas where fields are frozen face an additional challenge. That’s why Slow Food suggests using recipes that call for long-storing ingredients like root vegetables and squash.
You can also search the US Ark of Taste, a catalog of over 200 foods in danger of extinction in categories ranging from beverages, bread, grains and cereals, cheeses, fruits, herbs and spices, nuts, vegetables and wines and vinegars.