Celebrate a 100-Mile Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is an ideal time of year to experience the benefits of eating locally. The idea behind the 100-mile diet is to eat only foods that have been grown within 100 miles of where you reside. Depending on where you live, many of the foods eaten during Thanksgiving are available locally, such as sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkins.
There are numerous benefits to taking advantage of this abundance. First, buying locally harvested food supports local farmers, which, in turn supports the local economy. Second, you may save money; foods purchased at local farms or farmers markets are often cheaper than non-local food that’s been shipped across the country or from overseas. A third reason to buy local is for the health of the environment; shipping or flying food cross-country uses large amounts of fossil fuels that harm our environment.
The health benefits of 100-mile diets are also significant. Studies have demonstrated that local, seasonal fruits and vegetables have a more diverse nutrient profile than their non-local counterparts, which means you may get more essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for every dollar you spend. Here are six tips to help bring the 100-mile diet into your feast this Thanksgiving:
- Turkey: Purchase a free-range, naturally raised local turkey from your butcher or grocer.
- Stuffing: Stuff your turkey with organically grown, locally harvested whole grains such as wild rice or buckwheat instead of bread. You might also add some locally foraged wild mushrooms such as oyster, chanterelle, or portabella.
- Root vegetables: Buy colorful root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips and rutabagas from local farmers instead of conventionally grown white potatoes.
- Squash: Pumpkins and numerous varieties of locally grown squash are abundant during this time of year. Purchase them at a pumpkin patch or local farmers market.
- Beverages: Apples are plentiful in the fall and winter months, and local apple cider, often found at farmers markets and natural foods grocers, is the perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving feast. Serve chilled or hot with mulling spices. If you’re serving wine, get to know your local winemakers either in person or online.
- Dessert: Capitalize on those sweet potatoes, pumpkins or apples that you bought locally and make your own pies instead purchasing them at the store.
Article by Genevieve Sherrow, candidate, Master of Science in Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Exercise Science, Bastyr University.