Forget the fact that locally-sourced meals have become all the rage;  truth be told - food is just simply better tasting and better for you when it comes from a local farm.  The carrot that comes from the ground in Lakewood Township trumps the one that spent two weeks on a train coming from Argentina.  Add in the fact that there are (usually) less preservatives and the question about whether or not to serve locally is moot.

But where do you find this type of food to serve at your Thanksgiving meal?  I'm going to be honest - it's not easy and you probably are already too late for this years meal.  In many ways locally-sourced food shopping is more relationship-based than simply hopping in your car and heading to the supermarket.

And if you're doing your food shopping at a big box store like Walmart you're probably reading the wrong article (no offense).  (Although, if you shop a locally-based grocery store like Super One or Cub Foods, you'll find many products - especially produce - that comes from local sources.  Read the signs and labels)

Here is a list of idea-starters for a locally-sourced Thanksgiving.  I call it that because the list is not inclusive.  Rather, it's designed to get you on the path towards your own locally-sourced adventure.

  • Minnesotagrown.com:  This website is the perfect clearing house for information on farmers and farmers markets in our area.  From the home page, search for farms and markets in your area.  Even I was surprised at the number of sources in our area and the amount of produce and food that is in season at this time of year.  I searched for sources within a 25 mile radius of Duluth and found 14 farms;  increase that search to 50 miles and you get 24 farms.  The search results on the website come back with links to each farm and markets website and contact information.
  • The Sustainable Farming Association:  This organization links farmers together that are committed to growing produce and raising livestock with sustainable methods.  You could use it as a resource to find available products for your Thanksgiving table.
  • Farmerdoug.com:  This website connects you with fresh and local food.  Farmer Doug and Lois Hoffbauer are owners of a fruit, vegetable, and Christmas tree farm just outside of Duluth. They are dedicated to providing their customers the highest quality and best tasting fresh fruits and vegetables possible.  While the fall harvest of the summer produce is over, they would be a great place to start your journey.
  • Whole Foods Co-op:  According to their website, Whole Foods Co-op is a signatory to the Superior Compact, committing to purchasing at least 20% of its products from local farmers and businesses. Whole Foods Co-op also prioritizes regional purchases from farmers and businesses that are slightly farther away.
  • Superior Meats / Old World Meats / Adolph Store-Stokke's Meat Market:  Each of these specialty meat markets is famous for their high-quality butcher counters.  While none of them promise or claim to be locally-sourced, their product comes from respected farms that are closer to you than a chain or big-box-type of store.  They're also a good resource for connecting with local food suppliers and sources.

In many ways, the meal you serve for Thanksgiving can be as local as you want to make it. Be a smart shopper - even if you're not necessarily using product from the farm next door.  Read the labels and signs.  Often I find produce at our local grocery stores that comes from not that far away.  (As an example - Super One usually stocks russet potatoes that come from Grand Rapids, MN).  Other ways you can localize your meal include skipping the cans and boxes - you shouldn't be cooking with those anyway.

Good luck on your search and Happy Thanksgiving.

Click here for more ideas for your Thanksgiving table.