Reaping the local harvest

A green Thanksgiving feast

Baskets of potatoes

Baskets of potatoes

Photo by ashley hennefer

Check out my complete Thanksgiving menu, with recipes and where to find ingredients, at the Green with NV blog,

Thanksgiving has never been a big holiday for my family. We celebrate it each year in our own way by heading to a buffet and catching a film afterward. No hassle, no clean up, and arguably less expensive.

But this year is different. My boyfriend, Andrew, and I have lived in our place for more than a year, and we have yet to host any decent parties. I offered to host Thanksgiving, and my mom replied with a hesitant yes, either wanting to save me from the expense of time and money, or out of fear that I’ll screw up the whole meal, and we’ll end up at the Grand Sierra buffet after all.

I won’t make an unhealthy, outsourced, and environmentally-destructive Thanksgiving meal, so I have two requirements: All ingredients must be locally grown, and each dish has to be somewhat healthful, or as much as possible for this indulgent holiday.

Fairly straightforward, right? My menu includes the general Thanksgiving fixings with common ingredients, and my budget is $70. Luckily, produce is easy. The Great Basin Food Co-op sends out a weekly newsletter with all of their in-stock ingredients from regional farms and gardens, which is convenient. Their weekly list of veritable vegetables includes items like potatoes, leafy greens like kale and lettuce, and an array of herbs.

I also recently caught wind of a weekly indoor farmers market at the Garden Shop Nursery, and when I went a couple weekends ago, they had several types of potatoes available, as well as squash, onions, and garlic. I bought several of each.

Meat is harder. I need a turkey. When I was hunting for options, I found an ad that said “Live turkeys for sale” from the Smith Valley School Farm (SVSF). I was excited until I thought about having to kill my own turkey, pluck its feathers, clean out the innards. Eek. I’m a carnivore, so I enjoy feasting on dead animal carcasses, but this is out of my comfort zone. I know this attitude epitomizes much of what’s wrong with community agriculture. Maybe I should just be a vegetarian after all.

Thankfully, SVSF teacher Andy Miller and his students handle the dirty work. For them, it’s a learning experience.

“The students handle the butchering, packaging and cooling so they know how it’s all done,” Miller said.

Miller and his students have held their free range turkey program for three years.

“It’s cool to have the community get involved with the students,” said Miller.

Processing is done for free, and the turkeys sell out fast. I was unable to get one from Miller’s students, but I did manage to get one, ready to go, from Wolf Pack Meats. Butler Gourmet Meats in Carson City also has turkeys available.

My menu took more planning than had I just gone to the grocery store, but regional farmers were very helpful in my holiday preparations. I remained within my budget, supported Nevada’s agriculture, and once I finish cooking I’ll have some deliciously organic dishes to share with my family.

Having these local resources is definitely something for which to be thankful.