Don't Be a Turkey: Buy Local and Sustainable Food for Your Thanksgiving Feast

Savage River Farm Turkeys

Whether you’ve prepared your menu and shopping list already or not, I bet many of the items you will be cooking this Thanksgiving are in season and available at your local farmers market. If you are still looking for inspiration, Martha has some good ideas for seasonal recipes.

Buying local and sustainable food can help create jobs and grow our rural and urban economies, preserve farmland and improve the environment, and provide fresh and healthy food to our family and friends.

For all these reasons, NRDC is working to rebuild sustainable regional food systems.  An essential part of this work is encouraging cities and large institutions to buy more local food. We are proud to have worked with New York City and Los Angeles on local food laws and policies that are good models for other cities around the country. We are also advocating for essential distribution infrastructure so more people can have access to fresh, healthy food.

Good government policies and decisions are important but consumer demand is a huge piece of the puzzle and you can use your Thanksgiving feast to do your part. Plus, fresh, local food tastes great so your guests will be happy too!

These days it’s not so hard to find local and sustainable food but here are a few tips to maximize your next trip to the farmers market.

  1. Use NRDC’s buy local app to find a farmers market near you and check out what is in season ahead of time.
  2. Look for a market that accepts SNAP benefits (many do nowadays) and also ask if they have an incentive program—like New York’s Health Bucks—to stretch your SNAP dollars further.
  3. Talk turkey and beyond with your farmer. Ask your farmer about their growing practices (e.g. how do they limit their use of antibiotics and pesticides). They’ll love talking about their farm and learning more about how your food is grown makes your consumer voice even more powerful. And finally, make sure to thank your farmer for providing your family with healthy and sustainably grown food.

Wishing you all a local, sustainable, and happy Thanksgiving!

About the Authors

Margaret Brown

Staff Attorney, New York program

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