NH News
5:00 am
Wed November 27, 2013

How To Shop For A 25 Mile Thanksgiving

Slow Food Seacoast's John Forti checks out eggs, at the Rollinsford Farmers' Market
Slow Food Seacoast's John Forti checks out eggs, at the Rollinsford Farmers' Market
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

 Most of our Thanksgiving tables will be filled with turkeys, carrots and cranberries that have traveled from all over the country – and even the world – before making their way to our forks. But at a recent Thanksgiving celebration organized by Slow Food Seacoast, ingredients in every dish were harvested no more than 25 miles away. To see how one goes about shopping for an all-local Thanksgiving menu, we headed to a winter farmers’ market.

The indoor farmers’ market in Rollinsford feels bigger than a football field, and is teeming with vendors and buyers.

The founder of Slow Food Seacoast, John Forti, is here with his friend Michelle Moon. Forti’s already got 4 heritage turkeys in ovens around the Seacoast for the feast.  Now, he and Moon are here buying ingredients for side dishes.  

While Forti looks around for inspiration, Moon already has her recipe squared away. "I’m going to bring tonight a squash gnocchi that I’m going to make with squash, ricotta," Moon says, "and I’m going to toss it in kale and a little garlic and olive oil."

No, the ricotta and olive oil will not be sourced locally, but Forti says if he were to be a stickler and not allow any non-local ingredients, he could still put on a traditional thanksgiving meal.

He says a few years ago, grains would have been the limiting factor. It was just too hard to grow enough here to make it worthwhile. But now, he says, "I’m amazed, even at the market this season I saw 3 or 4 people with local grains, so that took away maybe the last thing we couldn’t produce locally."

Forti’s right. If you’re willing to spend $6 a pound for local flour, you can find a seller at the winter market.

The local food movement has been growing fast.  Forti says when his organization started hosting these local Thanksgiving dinners 8 years ago, a 100 mile radius was challenging enough.

Four years ago, Forti says, “ we changed it a 50 mile thanksgiving, and now it’s so realistic that you can get ingredients within 25 miles, that we’ve changed it.”

However, he says, they won’t be reducing that limit any time soon.

These super-local Thanksgiving suppers are part of a larger mission. Forti often says it’s a “delicious revolution,” he’s after. He wants to see more people eating locally grown food because, he says, it’s healthier, better for the environment, and tastes good, too.

As a local food maven, Forti can hardly walk a few steps here without seeing someone he knows. Like local chef, Kathy Gunst. She’s here picking up items for her Thanksgiving table:

“I bought some parsnips and I’m going to steam them and mash them with local pears.”

But, Forti says, these days it doesn’t have to be all parsnips and squash come Thanksgiving, and the winter months.

As winter farmers’ markets create demand for local produce all winter long, farmers’ are getting creative.  He says flash freezing allows farmers’ to preserve things like green beans or berries.

And thanks to hoop houses and cold frames, Forti says, you can serve baby greens and fresh tomatoes – even at a 25 mile Thanksgiving.

Across the room Amanda Parks is buying onions for sweet potato latkes.

Parks is a student with Slow Food UNH.  Thanksgiving overlaps with Chanukah this year, so she’s found a bunch of cross-over recipes . First, latkes for the 25 mile Thanksgiving that Forti is organizing. Then, there’s the so-called “Thanksgivikah” her organization is behind.

Parks is planning “apple-cider cranberry-jelly donuts for dessert for that,” as well ask a pumpkin-challah stuffing.

It’s that youthful creativity, Forti says, that will carry his beloved local food movement – long , into the future.

Most of our Thanksgiving tables will be filled with turkeys, carrots and cranberries that have traveled from all over the country – and even the world – before making their way to our forks. But at a recent Thanksgiving celebration organized by Slow Food Seacoast, ingredients in every dish were harvested no more than 25 miles away. To see how one goes about shopping for an all-local Thanksgiving menu, we headed to a winter farmer’s market.

The indoor farmers market in Rollinsford feels bigger than a football field, and is teeming with vendors and buyers.

The founder of Slow Food Seacoast, John Forti, is here with his friend Michelle Moon. Forti’s already got 4 heritage turkeys in ovens around the Seacoast for the feast.  Now, he and Moon are here buying ingredients for side dishes.  

While Forti looks around for inspiration, Moon already has her recipe squared away. "I’m going to bring tonight a squash gnocchi that I’m going to make with squash, ricotta," Moon says, "and I’m going to toss it in kale and a little garlic and olive oil."

No, the ricotta and olive oil will not be sourced locally, but Forti says if he were to be a stickler and not allow any non-local ingredients, he could still put on a traditional thanksgiving meal.

He says a few years ago, grains would have been the limiting factor. It was just too hard to grow enough here to make it worthwhile. But now, he says, "I’m amazed, even at the market this season I saw 3 or 4 people with local grains, so that took away maybe the last thing we couldn’t produce locally."

Forti’s right. If you’re willing to spend $6 a pound for local flour, you can find a seller at the winter market.

The local food movement has been growing fast.  Forti says when his organization started hosting these local Thanksgiving dinners 8 years ago, a 100 mile radius was challenging enough.

Four years ago, Forti says, “ we changed it a 50 mile thanksgiving, and now it’s so realistic that you can get ingredients within 25 miles, that we’ve changed it.”

However, he says, they won’t be reducing that limit any time soon.

These super-local Thanksgiving suppers are part of a larger mission. Forti often says it’s a “delicious revolution,” he’s after. He wants to see more people eating locally grown food because, he says, it’s healthier, better for the environment, and tastes good, too.

As a local food maven, Forti can hardly walk a few steps here without seeing someone he knows. Like local chef, Kathy Gunst. She’s here picking up items for her Thanksgiving table:

“I bought some parsnips and I’m going to steam them and mash them with local pears.”

But, Forti says, these days it doesn’t have to be all parsnips and squash come Thanksgiving, and the winter months.

As winter farmers markets create demand for local produce all winter long, farmers are getting creative.  He says flash freezing allows farmers to preserve things like green beans or berries.

And thanks to hoop houses and cold frames, Forti says, you can serve baby greens and fresh tomatoes – even at a 25 mile Thanksgiving.

Across the room Amanda Parks is buying onions for sweet potato latkes.

Parks is a student with Slow Food UNH.  Thanksgiving overlaps with Chanukah this year, so she’s found a bunch of cross-over recipes . First, latkes for the 25 mile Thanksgiving that Forti is organizing. Then, there’s the so-called “Thanksgivikah” her organization is behind.

Parks is planning “apple-cider cranberry-jelly donuts for dessert for that,” as well ask a pumpkin-challah stuffing.

It’s that youthful creativity, Forti says, that will carry his beloved local food movement – long , into the future.

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