3 Reasons to Buy Local for Your Thanksgiving Dinner
There will be no marshmallows atop our sweet potato casserole this Thanksgiving. No cranberry sauce on our table. No French wine in our glasses.
If you’re feeling sorry for us, stop. While we may be taking some liberties with the traditional holiday menu, we won’t be sacrificing any of the delicious decadence of a Thanksgiving meal.
While we may be taking some liberties with the traditional holiday menu, we won’t be sacrificing any of the delicious decadence of a Thanksgiving meal. Photo credit: Emma Huvos
What we will be doing is sharing a meal that is as good for our bodies, our community and our planet as it is delicious.
How? By eating locally.
As an expression of gratitude for the food that nourishes us and the farmers who produce it (and in the spirit of embracing quests), I’m embarking on a quest of my own: Project Local Thanksgiving. This year the ingredients used in our Thanksgiving meal will all have been produced within a 30-mile radius of our home.
Think I’m crazy? Here are three reasons why a local Thanksgiving makes sense:
1. Local Food is Good Food
“Good food depends almost entirely on good ingredients.” — Alice Waters, chef and owner of Chez Panisse
Eating locally is hands down the easiest way to ensure that your diet is simultaneously delicious, healthy and ethical.
When the majority of your diet is comprised of local food sources, you’re highly unlikely to be consuming many processed foods or chemical additives. What’s more, eating locally is by nature eating seasonally, so what you’re getting is practically guaranteed to be fresh and flavorful (unlike those sad, tasteless grocery store tomatoes).
2. Local Food Supports Local Economies
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” — Anna Lappé, author and educator
When you buy local food, you support local farms and businesses by putting money into the pockets of real, hardworking people instead of faceless corporations. You also have the opportunity to see firsthand where your food is coming from and confirm that the farmer is using practices that align with your ethics — whether that means free-range poultry, grass-fed meat, organic produce or fair wages for farm workers.
3. Local Food is Ecofriendly
“Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by more than 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.” — Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
At this point most of us are familiar with the idea that our dietary choices have a profound impact on our carbon footprint. No matter how healthy your diet may be, if you’re relying on food sources shipped in from half a world away, you aren’t doing the environment any favors. Whatever your dietary preferences are, sourcing your food locally and eating with the seasons will help reduce your carbon footprint.
Ready to go local?
Aside from all the logical arguments I can make in favor of local food, there are emotional factors at play as well. Simply put, there is something magical about eating food raised within miles of your home, by people you know, on farms you have visited. It is an experience the feeds both body and soul.
So yeah, I might be a little jealous of all you New Englanders who can rightfully claim cranberry sauce as a local dish. But mostly I’m just excited.
I’m excited to spend the next month on a quest for the most delicious local food I can find. I’m excited to stretch my culinary imagination and learn some new skills (grinding my own cornmeal can’t be that hard, right?). I’m excited to visit local farms and markets and get to know my community and my bioregion, in a more meaningful way. And, when all is said and done, I’m excited to sit down and eat a really damn good meal, surrounded by the people I love.
If any of that sounded exciting to you, too, then I hope you’ll hop on the Project Local Thanksgiving bandwagon. And if you’re not ready to go all in, thats just fine. How about a modified approach. Go for a 50 or 100 mile radius instead of 30. Or ensure that one ingredient in each dish (e.g. the apples in your pie or the rosemary in your stuffing) is sourced locally. However you do it, you’ll be nourishing more than just your body this Thanksgiving.
Emma Moulton Huvos is an educator, permaculture designer and founder of The Riverside Project.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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