Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All-local family Thanksgiving, Appalachian Style

From Phillip Gibson of the Swannanoa Journal, a special holiday cross-post about his family's all-local Thanksgiving meal for 18. All food was produced within a 200 mile radius of Gibson's home in Candler.

A meal prepared with local ingredients is not a new concept to me. We had a garden growing up, canned vegetables, homemade jams, frozen corn and a deep freeze with a side of beef that carried us through the winter. My grandparents taught me to make dishes such as wilted wild
poke salad with hot bacon grease for the dressing. But, that was a few decades ago.

At 43, living 600 miles from my birthplace, my memory of managing a garden or being closer to my food source is rooted back in Kentucky. So, when my wife and I decided to compose a Thanksgiving meal entirely made from local ingredients the task seemed daunting.

one of two local, minimally processed WWC turkeys for the Gibson family meal

Thanksgiving is a holiday that I greet with a bit of trepidation – baked versus deep fried turkey, potatoes versus dressing and the inherent family dynamics spurred by all their respective food preferences. Aside from these complexities, getting the ingredients without being “local” is as simple as driving to a grocery store and pushing a cart around.

But now my wife and I are tossing this ease to the side. For what? For taste and integrity.

We have been amazed over the past six months, at the cravings we have for an heirloom tomato sliced thickly and tucked neatly inside two slices of black bean turtle bread with just a thin layer of Duke’s mayo. It has been that way with each fresh vegetable we have gotten at the Asheville
City Farmer’s Market

We have gotten to the point that we know which farmer has eggs with the richest yellow yolks, who is the only maple syrup maker in NC and how to make a slaw using a variety of seasonal root vegetables.

local potatoes

The first pork chop carried home from the City Market and grilled – nothing on it – received the highest praise from my wife. The penny pincher she is…she felt it was worth every one of them.

Purchasing food locally that was made locally is an idea now reaching large numbers of people. National grocery stores are now featuring a local option to their existing produce selections. Meanwhile, the integrity of food itself has come into question with the news highlighting bacteria on national shipments of produce as well as concerns about avian flu, mad cow disease and swine
flu entering the food system.

Global warming activists have also linked international food shipments to increased carbon dioxide emissions – promoting a decrease in a family’s overall carbon footprint on the planet.

Yet, between the motivators of taste and integrity, it is taste that stands tallest and gives reason to the challenge of gathering each ingredient for the upcoming holiday meal.

local onions

This has been Phillip Gibson of the Swannanoa Journal.

1 comment:

Asheville Foodie said...

Impressed at the all local Thanksgiving Feast you put together!