It’s Not Too Late for a Local Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Rob Gardner

Thanksgiving arrives too late.  I have the feeling that the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving so late in the year is that the Pilgrims and the Indians could not find a mutually agreeable date amongst their busy holiday schedules.  In fact, that may even explain why it occurs on a Thursday and not on a weekend.  I mean, why celebrate the harvest so far after the harvest.  Us Jews put out Thanksgiving festival, Sukkot, at the beginning of fall.  The Canadians say lets get it over with by the second Monday in October.   Do you know that if Thanksgiving happened closer to the harvest our tables would be filled with summer squash and tomatoes and sweet corn, bell peppers and eggplants.  Because we wait so late for our National Holiday, we might not be able to rely on our seasonal bounty.  Is it too  late for an eat local Thanksgiving?

Of course, the late arrival of Turkey-day does not prohibit us from filling the table with locavore goods.  Nearly all the standard  sides fit right into seasonal eating, even seasonal eating in November.  What do we eat for Thanksgiving besides turkey?  Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, squash (seemingly always in the form of soup); onions (creamed), cranberries, apple pie, all of these items can be found at area farmer’s markets or sourced from local farmers in the Chicago area in November.  The one area where I see menus falter, the habit, the need, to put something “green” on the table.  Of course we want variation from all the sweet, heavy, starchy, yet yellow sides.  We expect something green that appears healthy.  Traditionally, it seems, this health component comes from green beans smothered in cream of mushroom soup, Durkee onions on the top.  Modern Moms put awful asparagus on the table because it captures the green without needing the barest whiff of goo to appear edible.  Don’t.  You can augment your meal with many available crops that are green or purple or white or something not orange.  Our local markets overflow now with kale.  Why not put green kale chips on your table.

Your bigger problem, we suppose, is getting that local food to put local food on your Thanksgiving table.  We hope that you have been stocking up on hard squash all fall.  We hope you took advantage of the Nichol’s Farm sale last week at Green City Market of 10 lbs of sweet potatoes for $10 (we splurged on 21 lbs for $21).  A good portion of those traditional foods could have been held for a period from a time when markets were flush.  And you supplement your table with home canned relishes and pickles.  Good for you.  Or you still want to make your meal local.  It’s not too late.

You can find local foods between now and Thursday.  Shop the Lincoln Square Farmer’s Market on Tuesday from 7 AM to 1 PM.  Our market sources insist there is stuff to be had.  We know there will be much to be had at Green City Market on the day before Thanksgiving including ample carrots, beets, apples, squash and many variations of green–kales, collards, spinach, chard, lettuces, rocket, beet greens, sprouts–to put a rainbow on your spread.  Besides those two markets, you have Green Grocer Chicago, the Downtown Farmstand and Dill Pickle Coop for local foods.  You can find stuff for Thursday.  It’s not too late for a local Thanksgiving.

And if you still need ideas for what to do with your local foods, we can address that too with a few ideas from our archives.  No one recognized the failure of green bean casserole more than our Backyard Farmer Brad, and last your he bolted to an easy roasted veg (the results here).   Melissa’s beet hummus will wow your guests.  She also suggests you put your stuffing in your squash.  Use our search box to find other recipes and ideas.

Do, do drink local this Thanksgiving.  Wendy thinks you should locapour with these suggestions of Michigan wines.  Tom sez you can easily drink beer with your repast and if you do, it better be local beer.  He gives you some choices here.

Please share with us how you are making your Thanksgiving a local Thanksgiving.