Publishers' Note Fall 2010


Written on

September 01 , 2010

When we think of what a traditional Thanksgiving might have looked like, many of us may conjure up images of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting around a communal table enjoying a shared harvest meal. We’re not sure who fabricated this idealized scenario, but even though it lingers with us to this day, its likelihood is doubtful. Actually, it was Abraham Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, as a way to raise people’s spirits during the long Civil War.

Our traditions provide us with continuity, a way to pass on practices from one generation to the next. But traditions shouldn’t be static—they should evolve with time and place. For this reason, we’ve begun to wonder what a truly local Thanksgiving in Vermont would look like. With all the small local farms in our state, and so many Vermonters eager to think up and share 100 percent local recipes with each other, maybe it’s time for a holiday redesign—Thanksgiving 2.0.

In Vermont, we are fortunate to have access to many types of local meat. In place of a turkey, one could bake a local ham with roasted apples (picked from a local orchard—see PYO Apples) or prepare a rabbit pot pie (Farmers' Kitchen). The state that was known as the breadbasket of New England is once again growing grain, so grain risotto made with wheat berries and wild mushrooms could grace any table, replacing standard old stuffing. Or you could feast on scalloped celeriac and potatoes instead of whatever standard vegetable you serve (and if you visit our Fall 2008 issue online, you can find the recipe).

If you just can’t envision Thanksgiving without a turkey, though, we have a great recipe in this issue for roasting a heritage breed (see page 17). When Abe Lincoln sat down to his holiday table, he undoubtedly would have feasted on a breed of turkey similar to the Standard Bronze or White Holland. These old breeds are now being raised at Applecheek Farm in Hyde Park (see page 16) and on other farms in Vermont. And if you can’t do without your sweet potatoes, there’s a farm we know of, Fertile Fields Farm just outside of Brattleboro, that is creating a real niche by growing sweet potatoes.

We could go on and on with suggestions, but the idea is to think about this holiday in a new way, to push the envelope, see the potential that local Vermont agriculture can provide, and discover the myriad possibilities. This fall, celebrate all the delicious and diverse foods that our local farmers and food producers bring to market and think outside the “traditional” Thanksgiving box. In the process, you might just create a new tradition for your friends and family.

Meg Lucas
Barbi Schreiber

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Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply.