The number one reason Thanksgiving is the perfect local food holiday? It’s the Turkey. (You should have seen that coming). Besides the 4th of July, what holiday is more American than Thanksgiving? The turkey may have lost the contest to be the national bird, but Ben Franklin’s favorite won the avian conciliatory prize of center plate and center stage on Thanksgiving. It’s that position that makes it the perfect focal point, for a gesture of change. Willingly or unwillingly you’ll most likely be spending Thursday with friends and family; catching up, arguing, trying to be present, making memories, getting annoyed, and eating to discomfort. It’s an amazing opportunity to take a small mindful step towards a better food system.
Like a New Year’s resolution that only hangs over you for a day, the turkey is the perfect awakening gesture. Commercial turkeys are terrible for so many reasons you’re bound to find one that resonates with you; the taste, the overcrowded life they were forced to live before being hurriedly and horridly forced en masses through some giant industrialized processing plant, selectively bred for so long to have so much breast meat they can hardly walk, and can no longer reproduce naturally. Their frozen commoditized carcasses, as bloated with appetite stimulants, antibiotics, and growth hormones as they are with marketing gimmicks, door busting sales, and corporate branding.
Open the door and explore. Find a farm, farmers market, or store that supports local. Buying a local turkey from a family farm gives you an opportunity to create a new tradition, to engage directly in your community. It’s an experience that comes with new relationships, offers support to a family farm, the local economy, and is generally a karmic upgrade. That local turkey will most likely be a different breed, have lived a different life, wasn’t pumped full of all the pharmaceutical enhancers, and met death without long travel, high stress, extended periods without food or water, rough handling, and machine orchestrated death.
Vote for a better way this Thanksgiving. Use Thanksgiving as a reason to reexamine, if only for a moment, your relationship to food. Of course, the Turkey is only a symbolic, maybe you don’t eat turkey, maybe you already buy a local turkey. Then walk to a farmer’s markets and pick up collard greens, go to the bakery in the center of town for a pie. Support local farms, local business, artisans, on this day of thanks. We could all use a little more connectedness right now, and that local purchase, be it a turkey, a collard green, or a pie strengthens every community. Not to mention it just tastes better than the over processed, over marketed stuff coming out of whatever box some multinational is pushing. Do it for Ben Franklin, let the Turkey rule the day. Let it inspire you to make a change, make a connection, make a vote for a better more sustainable food system.