Give Thanks Locally

| 11/19/2007 12:00:00 AM

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This Thanksgiving week, the more fortunate of us will be thinking a lot about food as we plan and eat feasts that represent the bounty of the harvest. 

I was reflecting on how the first European colonists on this continent nearly starved because they were unfamiliar with the local foods of North America. Thanks to the generosity of the Wampanoag people, who shared their food knowledge with the pilgrims almost 400 years ago, their corn and squash harvests flourished. The two peoples sat down together for an autumn harvest feast in October of 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts. (For more information on the “first Thanksgiving,” visit the Plimoth Plantation website.) 

Today, in our convenience-food society, a lot of Americans are unfamiliar with local foods, but we’re not starving. In fact, the opposite is true—we’re inundated by food, much of which has been shipped across the globe. We can eat strawberries in January; we can have chocolate grown in Africa and processed in Belgium. 

I admit I love these treats as much as the next person, but I try to make an effort to look for local at the grocery store and when I’m selecting a restaurant. 

For years, I’ve been a fan of the Chef’s Collaborative, a national organization that works with chefs and the food-producing community to celebrate local foods and foster a more sustainable food supply. 

Whenever I’m going to eat out—especially when I’m traveling—I check the roster of Chef's Collaborative members to help me select a restaurant that I know will serve me great-tasting food that’s locally sourced and organic whenever possible.