An all-local Thanksgiving dinner is a lofty goal, but probably impractical (and would almost certainly add some additional stress to the holiday).
Some traditional ingredients, like green beans or corn, have passed their peak harvest season here in Western North Carolina, so if you didn’t freeze some back in September, you might be out of luck now. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find local cranberries or pecans. But there are ways to feature something local in each dish, if you’re up for the challenge!
Cranberry sauce or relish is a must on many Thanksgiving tables. If you’re not ready to swap this classic for a more local fruit preparation (such as a muscadine grape jelly), consider adding local apples, ginger, and honey to your cranberry sauce. Look for both apples and ginger from McConnell Farms at Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market. Another option is to serve cranberry salsa and buy herbs and maybe even jalapeños locally. Look for cilantro from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, and West Asheville Farmers Market.
Eggs are another great way to add delicious local products to your Thanksgiving table. Corn pudding may have to be made with non-local frozen corn, but eggs can be found at most farmers tailgate markets. And those non-local green beans? Braise them in a Dutch oven with local bacon. Dry Ridge Farm (Asheville City Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Tailgate Market) has both eggs and bacon.
What about dessert? Obviously apple and pumpkin (or squash) are easy local go-tos for a sweet ending to the meal. But maybe someone in the family insists on a pecan, banana cream, or other favorite pie? Beyond local eggs, using honey as a substitute for sugar is a great way to stay local. You can find honey from Osada Bee Farm at North Asheville Tailgate Market.
Asheville area farmers markets open this week include Asheville City Market and North Asheville Tailgate Market on Saturday; West Asheville Tailgate Market on Tuesday; and River Arts District Farmers Market and Weaverville Winter Tailgate Market on Wednesday. In addition to the ideas here, you’ll find plenty of Thanksgiving staples like bread, cheese, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark greens like kale, chard, or collards, and tender salad greens.
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.