The 100-mile Thanksgiving
You can source many of your ingredients locally. Here’s how!
Thanksgiving is the penultimate holiday for food-lovers, with some of the most lovingly prepared and thoughtful food you’ll eat all year. We shop and plan and prepare to make Thanksgiving special, to share a sacred meal, give thanks, and create lasting memories with friends and family. This year, why not make it even more special by having a 100-Mile Thanksgiving and locally sourcing as many holiday table foods as possible?
Let’s look at the some of the traditional items on the Thanksgiving menu: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts and pie. Are all these holiday classics available locally? The answer, happily, is yes!
Each year I buy my free-range heritage turkey from Old Home Place Farm, located in Vernal, Utah. Their delicious birds typically sell out at least a week before the big day so don’t delay. Heritage birds or traditional broad-breasted birds are available for order fresh directly from the farm or at the Rio Grande Winter Market. Old Home Place also offers whole free-range chickens, if you’re feeding a smaller crowd. They do delivery and drop off to several locations in the Salt Lake valley and Park City; visit their website for details.
If a non-traditional protein is more your style, check out Canyon Meadows Beef or Blue Tree Cattle for a lovely roast or brisket. Lau Family Farms offers lamb and beef, and Clifford Family Farms offers a variety of pork cuts to fulfill your holiday vision. Don’t forget local eggs, also available from Clifford Farms, critical to your pumpkin and custard pies, egg nog, and other seasonal baked goods.
If a no-meat holiday is your goal, find a nice big blue hubbard, butternut or spaghetti squash to roast filled with a stuffing of your choice—maybe a traditional bread filling, or mix it up with apples, nuts, quinoa, and onions from Parker Farms.
Many farmers markets have closed for the season, but you can still find an amazing abundance of local produce at the few markets still open in November, including the Rio Grande Winter Market in Salt Lake City, Petersen Family Farm Market in Riverton, and Wilkerson Farm market in Orem.
You’ll find local potatoes for mashing, onions, carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (not yams, people!). Beets, kale, radish and other hearty greens are readily available, as are most herbs used in fall cooking such as sage, thyme and parsley. You’ll also likely find fresh pears, ripe for a pear tart or galette that makes a lovely substitute if pumpkin isn’t your thing.
Let’s talk pie. Central Milling is an excellent resource for local flour, perfect for Thanksgiving pies, cookies and breads. This Logan institution has been supplying the best Utah bakeries with conventional and organic flour for years, much of it sourced from the Intermountain region, and now you can buy it online and in limited retail locations for baking at home.
Local pumpkins abound—you can even use those left over from Halloween décor. Pumpkins can be roasted ahead of time and frozen until you’re ready to create your holiday masterpiece. Apples are also plentiful now—Fuji, Braeburn, Granny Smith and more from Pyne Farms, Smith Orchards, and Riley’s Orchards.
Let’s not forget about the abundance of local wines, beers and liquors that pair with our holiday meals. The Hive Winery crafts award-winning ciders, wines and brandy from local fruit and honey. Ruth Lewandowski Wines are another highly regarded favorite. Some of these wines are only available for purchase directly from their tasting rooms, so check their respective websites for more information. Utah’s many breweries—Uinta, Squatters, Proper, Fisher, Salt Fire, the list goes on—also offer an impressive array of options to fit any taste or pairing. Local distillers also abound, from Sugar House Distillery vodka, to Beehive’s award-winning Jackrabbit gin, to Waterpocket Distillery’s unique liqueurs, rums, and whiskey. If you prefer an alcohol-free Thanksgiving table, try the lovely hand-pressed ciders from Pyne Farms, Farnsworth Farms, or Zollingers Fruit Farm in Logan. Those are available at your local Harmons, the Rio Grande Winter Market, The Store and other local grocers.
Lastly, it’s an unfortunate reality that Americans generally throw away about 40% of their total consumable food. This holiday season, take a moment to think about curbing your food waste and use every morsel. Boil your turkey carcass for stock to use in soups and stews over the coming months. Freeze leftover turkey for future dinners like a turkey pot pie or a hearty turkey tetrazzini.
We invite you to take a moment to consider your carbon footprint, the many miles your food may have traveled, and the environmental impact of your diet. Then use a 100-Mile Thanksgiving to educate your friends and family about the bountiful harvest Utahns produce, and how to turn that into a locally inspired and truly delicious meal.
Alison Einerson is the Executive Director of Urban Food Connections of Utah, a 501c3 non-profit organization that operates the Downtown Farmers Market, the Rio Grande Winter Market, and is working to open the Rio Grande Public Market in Downtown Salt Lake City. A version of this story appeared in the November CATALYST 2015. This is updated with current information. Last month Alison received the Local Leader award from Slow Food Utah.