Let’s talk turkey, shall we?
88% of US households eat turkey on Thanksgiving. At an average weight of 16 pounds per turkey that adds up to 736 million pounds that will be eaten this Thanksgiving.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 31% of turkey consumption takes place during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.
Besides turkey being the main attraction during Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes have also climbed their way to the top. A total of 2.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were produced in 2012. Americans only ate 5.3 pounds per person of the popular side dish in 2011.
One thing that has remained the same is the good old American apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies. They remain the most popular Thanksgiving picks each year. The U.S. produced a total of 1.1 billion pumpkins in 2013.
The first Thanksgiving was a local affair
Most of what you find on our traditional Thanksgiving menu has its roots in local, in-season food. Think about it. Native Americans were “locavores” back when “fresh, in season and local” were not marketing terms, but a way of life!
Sadly, the more recent tradition has been to fill our shopping carts industrially-raised turkey that’s been injected with saline to make it seem juicy, or Jell‐O salad with canned fruit cocktail, or green-bean casserole with canned mushroom soup, or sweet potatoes from a can.
Why not give the traditional favorites a new, healthy, tasty twist?! We live in a county that supplies a bounty of all we need. Fresh, local and in season is at our fingertips. So filling up that autumn bountiful cornucopia with local is pretty easy. Trust me – your family will love it! The food tastes fresher and more full of flavor and it’s great to tell the story of where it all came from: from the farm to the fork.
Even more reasons to eat local this Thanksgiving!
There is just no better way to express gratitude for our local bounty, area farmers, and their continued stewardship of the land than to buy local.
Here are just a few of the benefits of buying locally grown and raised foods:
- Locally grown food is full of flavor. When grown locally, the crops are picked at their peak of ripeness versus being harvested early for shipping and distribution. Many times produce at local markets has been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.
- Eating local food is eating seasonally. Even though we wish strawberries were grown year round in Michigan, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower. They are full of flavor and taste better than the ones available in the winter that have traveled thousands of miles and picked before they were ripe.
- Local food has more nutrients. Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, and it is less likely that the nutrient value decreased. Food imported from far‐away states and countries is often older, has traveled and sits in distribution centers before it gets to your store.
- Local food supports the local economy. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community.
- Local food benefits the environment. By purchasing locally grown foods you help maintain farmland and green and/or open space in your community.
- Local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source the more chances there are for contamination. Food grown in distant locations has the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution.
- Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. You can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food.
So this Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks to our farmers and the bounty that is Ventura County.
For a list of local Farmers’ Markets, CSAs and more, click here.
Image credits: Robert LeMaire and Kat Merrick.