Last Minute Thanksgiving Shopping Tips

November 24, 2008 at 9:14 am

Rob Gardner

Two days before my scheduled presentation at the Family Farmed Expo on Thanksgiving tips, I was doing shots of Death Door Vodka with my favorite local food reporter and moderator of the forthcoming panel, Monica Eng.  Monica asked, what would we discuss.  In candor, I said, if you have not shopped yet for Thanksgiving, you’re screwed.  Or it was something like that at the Localicious party.  Still, procrastinators have some options.  Thanksgiving, more than any holiday, should be a local food holiday.  The Local Beet has your holiday shopping tips.

Foremost, to my somewhat surprise (yes the Internet is a good tool), Green City IS open for business on the day before Thanksgiving.  Find local food then and there.  For those in need in the outer reaches of the Chicago world, there is also a market on Wednesday in Sterling, Illinois, one who’s quality or stock I cannot speak.   Of course, Cassie’s is ALWAYS open, always with local food, at her Green Grocer Chicago.  I’ve got newly nice things to say about the Chicago Downtown Farmstand, perhaps for another post, but for now note that this is a source for your Thanksgiving table shopping on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.  Finally, putting on my affordable/accessible outfit, I note that Caputo‘s has certain local things you can use like winter squash and apples. 

Because of the New England origins of Thanksgiving, the foods associated with the holiday are luckily the foods also available in our nicely cool climate.  You should be able to meet your whipped potato needs or whip out a butternut squash soup if that’s what you need, from the markets above.  You can surely make pie from real pumpkins or from real apples with ingredients around.   Rick Bayless at his demo at the Expo mentioned how he likes to offset the richness of several Thanksgiving dishes with some salads.  You can do no worse than combing a few ingredients from Oriana, the Papple Lady: her black walnuts and Asian style pears, with some arugula that should be in the market and a nice local cheese.

I would have mentioned this at my talk yesterday even if Irv of Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks did not just walk into the room; that one of the best ways to know what you can find local at any given time is to check their web site.  So, when your Thanksgiving creative mojo is sparking, you can go there to see the products to work with.  (I should mention, however, that Irv and Shelly are not delivering in the days before Thanksgiving.)  Another way to get a good idea of what local food’s still in markets is to look at Wisconsin’s Harmony Vally farm web site.  Burdock this Thanksgiving?

C’mon, where’s the turkey talk.  Several paragraphs in, here’s some tips for those still looking for a local bird for their holiday table.  Both Cassie and Marion St. Cheese Market have birds from TJ’s Poultry.  I know John Caveny dropped off his heritage birds at the Geneva local superstore (Inglenook Pantry) this weekend.  If you did not pre-order, they may not have a turkey for you, but my hunch is, it’s worth a shot.   The Illinois turkey factory farm will defend their turkeys against anyone.  The Ho-Ka turkey has been on my holiday table several times.  There are many places to buy around town, although you should call first to ensure that place has.   Last year my family and I passed on the Ho-Ka turkey for something even fresher, a turkey processed minutes before, from John’s Live Poultry at Fullerton and Austin–the turkeys waddle around near the alley until their time is up.  I can vouch for the outstandingness of this turkey.  You get especially crisp skin from such a fresh bird.

I’ll cover local Thanksgiving drinking tips in another post, but let us know if we missed any Thanksgiving ideas, needs or suggestions.  Make your holiday a local holiday.



  1. sdritz says:

    For those of you in the southern suburbs still looking for local foods for Thanksgiving, the Frankfort Country Market is having a special Wednesday market. Marilyn’s Pies will be there — you might want to order in advance, though, as they will sell out quickly. It’s a nice local market and goes through December.

  2. Rob Gardner says:

    Thanks for the great suggestion Suzy!

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