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Bringing Home Washington’s Bounty

November 10, 2009

SEATTLE - With a little planning, having an all-Washington Thanksgiving dinner is absolutely possible. So says the Cascade Harvest Coalition, a group that connects farmers in the state with retailers, chefs and consumers. The Coalition is asking Washington residents to sign a pledge saying they'll serve at least one locally-grown food for the upcoming holiday.

Mary Embleton, who heads the group, says that shouldn't be tough. Retailers have responded to the growing number of requests for local products, so this year they're not hard to find.

"It's easier and easier for people to find local products identified on the shelves at the store. And certainly, kind of in between the farmers' market and the retailers, there's a lot more home deliveries that are partnering with local farmers. So, there's a lot more access now to local food."

Embleton says the only thing you may have to improvise on is the main course. There are plenty of options, from pork, beef and chicken to fresh seafood and vegetarian alternatives. However,if you insist on a locally-raised turkey, those are in short supply.

"We do have people that raise turkeys in the state but, because of the lack of processing facilities, it's certainly not the number that would kind of meet the demand for everybody at Thanksgiving. So, typically you have to place an order, say, in summertime."

Embleton says eating locally helps the state's economy, farmers and their communities, as well as minimizing the transportation costs of shipping food in from other areas. Or as the Coalition puts it, "Why should your food travel farther than your guests?"

About 2500 families took the "Eat Local for Thanksgiving" pledge last year, and this year's goal is to double that number.

The pledge, as well as details about a video contest for families, is to be found online at
www.eatlocalforthanksgiving.org

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA