Monday, October 19, 2009

100 Mile Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an ideal time of year to experience the benefits of the 100-mile diet. The idea behind 100-mile is to eat a diet consisting of foods that have been grown within 100 miles of where you reside. Depending on where you reside, many of the foods that we eat during Thanksgiving are available locally like sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkins. We should take advantage of this abundance for a number of reasons. First, buying locally harvested food supports local farmers which in turn supports your local economy. Second, you save money when you eat locally; 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 which 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’re getting more essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for every dollar you spend. Here are 6 tips that can help bring the 100-mile diet into your feast this Thanksgiving:

1. Turkey: Purchase a free-range, naturally raised local turkey from your local butcher or grocer.
2. 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 mushrooms.
3. Root vegetables: Buy root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips and rutabagas from local farmers instead of buying conventionally-grown white potatoes.
4. 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.
5. Beverages: Apples are everywhere during the fall and winter months, and local apple cider, often found at farmers’ markets and natural foods markets, 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.
6. Dessert: Capitalize on those sweet potatoes, pumpkins or apples that you bought locally and make your own pies instead purchasing them at the store.

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