Localvore Thanks

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(HOST) East Dorset writer and commentator Mary Barrosse Schwartz is planning the traditional localvore menu for her family’s Thanksgiving feast.

(BARROSSE) If you’ve ever been tempted by the state’s localvore movement to eat a meal that is produced entirely locally, the Thanksgiving feast is a great place to start. After all, it began with New Englanders, who were celebrating the local harvest, local squash, poultry, root vegetables, and bread.

For omnivores, the Vermont Thanksgiving tradition starts with a fresh local turkey. The Vermont Department of Agriculture’s website lists where to buy fresh turkeys locally, but there’s also localvore websites all over the state that list food resources.

At our house, we pull potatoes, onions, pumpkin, squash, apples and sweet potatoes from our root cellar, all raised by our family and friends. Side dishes of mashed potatoes, stuffing made from local breads and sausage, sweet potato and apple casserole, and a steaming dish of sautéed kale with onions and garlic, will be preceded by a plate of Vermont cheeses.

This year we’re trying egg nog made with eggs from our own chickens and Vermont vodka. The vodka? Some local vodkas are flavored with maple syrup, and now there’s one that contains cow’s milk too. The variety of Vermont beers and wines has also grown steadily.
Our pies will be made using lard and butter in the crust; the lard from last summer’s hogs and butter from our cow. I have to sneak the lard in because the kids think I’m crazy to cook with it, but it makes the pie crusts flakier and is better for you than the partially saturated vegetable shortening that we used for years. It’s certainly no worse for you than butter.

During our family gathering, we’ll take a few minutes to reflect on all the things we are thankful for, just like other families across the country. We’re thankful for a great year of working our farm, building a farming collective, and a stronger localvore movement in our corner of the state. We’re also thankful for great food in a time when many families are feeling the economic pinch.

We’ll take stock of all the things we love, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We love our family. We love our friends. We love our community. We also love good coffee. We have learned to love kale and Vermont’s unique gilfeather turnip. We love our local bookstore, our church, and our local newspaper. Vermont is a wonderful place, and this time of year we enjoy the local bounty and appreciate the sense of community that still exists here – thank goodness.

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