Support sustainable agriculture by eating local this Thanksgiving

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Column by Theresa Howard, Extension Service

By Theresa Howard

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many of us already are beginning to plan our holiday meals. As we begin meal preparations, we should not forget the hard work and long hours Kentucky farmers put in every day to ensure we have food on our tables.

During this season, you can show your gratitude to farmers in your community by preparing your Thanksgiving meal from locally grown products.

Buying locally grown foods cuts down on those fuel and transportation costs. Since locally grown foods do not have to travel as far, it ensures the food you consume is as fresh as possible.

One way you can eat “local” this Thanksgiving is by purchasing a Bourbon Red Turkey. This species of turkey originated in Bourbon County in the late 1800s.

In fact, its name is a combination of the county and its red feathers. While these turkeys are smaller than a traditional turkey, they have a much deeper, richer flavor.

Their preparation times also vary from other turkeys. Bourbon Reds will need to be cooked slower and at a lower temperature than traditional turkey.

Producers should give you cooking instructions when you purchase a turkey.

You should make arrangements with a producer now if you plan to serve a Bourbon Red Turkey this Thanksgiving. Production is limited, and this is the only time of the year the turkeys are available because it takes the majority of the year to raise them. Most producers take reservations and will have them ready the week before Thanksgiving.

Check the Kentucky MarketMaker Web site at www.marketmakerky.com for names and contact information for producers in the state and in our area.

If you want something other than turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, MarketMaker also has listings and contact information for other meats, including ham and hen producers, throughout the state.

In addition to turkeys, you can prepare a flavorful meal with winter fruits and vegetables.

Products like pumpkins, squash, dried beans, apples, yams and potatoes make a nice addition to any meal. Check with our local agri-businesses for winter crop products. While you may pay more for these items, you can get satisfaction by supporting our local and regional farmers and keeping money in our community.