Eating Local in Phoenix

A Thanksgiving Bone to Pick
Heritage turkey

Courtesy American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and, if you haven’t heard it before, it’s the ideal locavore meal.  The original meal was created with local, seasonal food.  It’s one of the few meals that’s made with genuinely American ingredients.  Squash, fish, wild turkey (which may or may not have been at the first dinner – it is commonly thought that venison was there, however), corn, pumpkin and maybe cranberries all combined to make a meal in celebration of a successful harvest.  It’s easy to recreate the traditional – er, the new traditional – meal anywhere in the country thanks to grocery stores featuring foods driven in from the other end of the country and factory turkeys.  It is just as easy to create all local variety with foods growing in your area.  And if there is any meal where going local and celebrating the harvest is encouraged, it’s Thanksgiving.  This is the time of year to genuinely celebrate the harvest – whatever it consisted of – and make a meal that honors the hard work and love that went into the foods cultivated during the year.  If you didn’t raise any food, which I didn’t, it’s a great time to head to the farmers markets and honor them with patronage.  But enough with the waxing poetic over local ingredients.  Let’s get on to the bone picking.

Chef LaPrad's Thanksgiving dinner

Michael McNamara/The Arizona Republic


Last week, November 17th 2010, the Arizona Republic ran with this sentiment and published “Arizona locavore Thanksgiving feast.” Greg LaPrad, chef at Quiessence at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix crafted a gorgeous meal including a pork loin and goat cheese cheesecake.  I was genuinely excited to see the newspaper focusing on such a great cause, however, I was immediately disheartened when I read this sentence:

In a break from tradition, LaPrad stuffs a pork loin instead of a turkey because no birds are available locally.

I was bothered for two reasons. 1. There are turkeys available locally and 2. since I am a current journalism student, the author of the article should have taken the time to research this fact, instead of just taking the chef’s word for it.

If she had done a google search, she would’ve found this:


google search, turkey in phoenixSee that purple link there?  That’s one I visited 5 times over the past week, doing research on Thanksgiving options available in Phoenix.  It took you to the Downtown Phoenix Public Market site where the fresh and frozen local turkeys available were listed.  According to One Windmill Farm, they had 25 turkeys available and “returned to the farm” to “get some more birds” in order to meet the demand for local, heritage gobblers.  Now, 25+ birds will not feed a city of over 6 million, but they weren’t the only ones with the traditional main course.

Now, I admit, it’s a bit much to get worked up over 25+ local birds.  However, as the local movement continues to grow, it’s important that people know the resources available, even if there are only a handful of traditional birds.  This is not to say that I wasn’t thrilled that the article presented an alternative to turkey, especially given the limited quantity.  However, it’s important to highlight the birds that were available locally which could, with purchasing dollars in action, be more prominent next year.  Furthermore, supporting heritage turkey – through consumer power – means these birds may once again become a part of farm life.   Instead of the genetically modified, large-breasted birds that are physically unable to mate due to their food-driven physique, heritage birds are able to reproduce (without assistance), come from a rich ancestry and have a well-rounded flavor that trumps the generic, even bland, industrial Tom.

Ok, and I’m off my soapbox.

This Thanksgiving, I’m going all local.  We’re having roasted chicken (with only three diners, it just doesn’t make sense to cook three times the amount of food necessary), boiled carrots, apple-sausage stuffing, scalloped potatoes, salad with farmers cheese and either sweet potato or apple pie for dessert.

Whatever you make this holiday, I hope it is a wonderful day of thanks filled with family, friends and great food.

Bon Appetit!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Anna!I wonder if the local food producers there know what a champion (and gem) they have in their corner!

Comment by Carol Brown

Thanks Carol! I hope you had a fantastic Canadian Thanksgiving last month!

Comment by Anna Consie

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