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  • Writer's pictureKatherine

Farm to Table: Thanksgiving Part 1

As the leaves start to turn and the weather cools, it could only mean one thing: the Holidays are almost here! Thanksgiving has easily turned into one of our favorite family celebrations where we eat way too much incredible food and enjoy lots of quality family time. It's also a great time to incorporate local produce and meat for your holiday feasts!

This year our little family has designed an entire Thanksgiving menu around the local produce options that we received in our weekly CSA box.

Thanksgiving Day Menu:

Herb roasted turkey

Blueberry & cranberry sauce

Sweet potato casserole with honey pecan drizzle

Beet, arugula and goat cheese feta salad

Venison cornbread dressing

Mixed greens (kale, mustard and collards)

Blue crab macaroni and cheese

Pecan pie brownies

A majority of the menu was planned around what I was able to get in my weekly CSA box and what I was able to collect from other local farms. After that, I was able to "shop" in my pantry and freezer to find some awesome items like some leftover blue crab meat from a crab boil this summer (we don't waste anything in our house) or marinated goat cheese feta that we purchased at a farm festival a few weeks ago. Those small items add so much umph to the dishes that it really does feel like a gourmet meal!

While it has taken me a long time to build up my supply of local food in my pantry and freezer, that doesn't mean that you can't incorporate more local items in yours as well! Look for local products everywhere you go and take advantage of specials local businesses are having. You never know you might find a new favorite staple!

Eating local during the holidays has so many great benefits! First, you can avoid spending extra time and money in the grocery store this holiday season by shopping at open air farmer's markets and even having produce delivered straight to your door. Locally grown fruits and vegetables also have a longer shelf life since they are picked fresh from the farm instead of shipped hundreds of miles in a refrigerator truck. They are also nutrient dense and often fairly unadulterated (no chemicals to increase the shelf life). And lastly, by shopping locally you are helping to boost your local economy which helps families directly in your community. There are so many great reason to eat and shop local, so why are you choosing to shop local this holiday season?

I am so excited to get in the kitchen and make an awesome Thanksgiving feast filled with plenty of local goodies for my little family! Here's the complete breakdown of how we have incorporated local food into some of our favorite holiday dishes:

Local Produce:

Blueberries from Black Pearl Farms

Kale, Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Turnips, Mustard Greens & Lettuce-free Salad Mix from Organically Roland

Collards from Sylvan Farms

Ginger from Greenleaf Farms

Rosemary from my garden

Apples from Grandad's Apples

Other local items:

Anson Mills Cornmeal

Thomas Family Farms goat cheese feta

Seafood stock from Gay's Seafood Market shrimp

Chicken Bone Broth from Crazy Chic Heritage Farms chicken

Blue crab meat harvested locally

Venison sausage from Branchville SC

Pecans from Fabel Farms

Edisto Gold Raw Honey

Would you like to incorporate more local selections but do not know where to begin? Here are some helpful and easy tips to eating more local this holiday season:

1. Shop a small farmer's market or join a local CSA There are so many local items in season right now that can easily be incorporated into your traditional holiday dishes! Look for a small farmer's market in your town or neighborhood to shop for holiday staples like sweet potatoes, greens, lettuce and many other options depending on your region. Finding farmer's through a small local market is a great way to save money as well! Another great longer term option is to find a local farm that is offering a CSA box. Each week you'll recieve a selection of locally grown vegetables and fruit. These are a great option for incorporating a lot of local in your weekly diet!

2. Make simple swaps with everyday items Use local honey instead of sugar, goat cheese instead of store bought cheese, fresh locally grown herbs, bread from your local artiestan bakery etc. It's so easy to get creative and make simple swaps with local items! Make sure to browse through your local artesian store, grocery store or farmer's market to find some great items to incorporate into your holidays this year!

3. Use herbs from your yard or a neighbor's yard With so many garden centers, grocery stores and local nurseries carrying potted herbs, it is so easy and affordable to grow your own herbs. Instead of buying pre-chopped herbs, opt for the potted kind in the produce aisle and replant at home. Perennial herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme and lavender are all great options to start with since they can be harvested year round. If you don't have herbs in your yard yet, consider asking a neighbor or friend for some clippings from their garden.

4. Make broth with local meat selections Making your own broth couldn't be easier or more affordable, especially for the holiday season! Talk to your local farm about purchasing chicken bones, beef bones or stew meat to make a hearty and delicious broth. Not into meat or can't find a local farm that raises animals? Try finding locally grown mushrooms for a delicious mushroom broth! For an easy to use recipe, just put bones, skin or other portions in with salt, celery, carrots and onion in a pot filled with water and simmer for a few hours. You can even use vegetable scraps that you have collected while preparing other dishes (avoid scraps like broccoli stems, cabbage scraps or other cruciferous vegetable scraps as they can change the taste of a broth).

5. Swap out duck eggs for all of your baking needs Many bakers swear by using duck eggs over chicken eggs because they create a richer taste in desserts. Duck eggs are often larger and more affordable than their chicken counterparts plus, the majority of local duck eggs come from small hobby farms––win, win, and win!

So, how do you incorporate local items in your holiday meals? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments and be sure to look for Farm to Table: Thanksgiving Part 2 to see how our holiday meal came together!

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