Our View: Shop local for your Thanksgiving meal this year | Times Leader

If you haven’t already bought all your Thanksgiving feast fixings, consider following the urging of Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and buy locally as much as practical. If not from local farmers, at least buy Pennsylvania produce.

Redding issued a media release last Friday pointing out that buying from in-state producers supports “nearly 53,000 family farms and supports jobs and the economy right where you live.”

The more local your purchases are (as in produced around here, and not simply shipped to local stores), the more you help area farmers, with the bonus of being assured the freshest stuff you can get.

“As we share in day of thanks and giving, let us show gratitude to the farmers and agriculture workers who make it possible for food to reach our dinner tables this holiday season,” Redding said in the release. “Shopping locally and looking for items with the PA Preferred logo is a great way to directly say ‘thank you’ while giving back to the farmers and local businesses who supply our dinner tables every day of the year.”

“PA Preferred” is a marketing program intended to give farmers and those in the agriculture business a “brand identity” that separates their offerings from the wide range of things trucked in from out of state. Looking for the PA Preferred logo is a quick way to help keep your grocery money within the Commonwealth.

It may be hard for some to believe — especially those who live in larger cities — but agriculture is a huge part of the Pennsylvania economy, with an annual economic impact of nearly $136 billion. And a lot of that business is done farm-to-buyer. U.S. Department of Agriculture data, our state ranks third in the nation for the number of farms that sell directly to consumers.

Alas, it’s too late to do your Thanksgiving shopping at the Wilkes-Barre Farmer’s Market, the final day of the weekly event was last Thursday. But lots of farms have their own stands or stores.

“Consumers can shop from more than 6,400 farms with on-farm sales and participate in agritourism activities at more than 700 farms operating pick your own pumpkins and Christmas trees this holiday season,” the media release points out. You can get a good feel for just how many farms and farm-related business and tourist opportunities there are in Luzerne County through a Penn State Extension interactive map at extension/psu.edu/farm-market-finder.

And as the Christmas Tree reference demonstrates, there’s more to buying local than fresh produce and meet — though the release points out “foods found in a traditional Thanksgiving meal are produced and harvested abundantly by Pennsylvania farmers, including more than six million turkeys, 100 million pounds of pumpkins, and 160 million pounds of potatoes annually.” But we also have wineries, people making and selling cheese, locally grown flowers and other plants, and bakers who specialize in using local ingredients.

So consider visiting ht PA Preferred website, or the site for the Pennsylvania Culinary Trails previously touted in this space, or paeats.com. There’s even a Google Maps page set up to help you find veteran-owned farms and agribusinesses.

Clearly, there’s plenty of opportunity to make Thanksgiving dinner — and many of your meals — from locally and state produced agricultural goods. And there are tools on the internet that can make buying local easier than ever.

So if you haven’t already done it, consider planning your feast with local and regional agriculture in mind. It keeps your meal fresh, and keeps those farms in operation for more to enjoy.

Source: Einnews

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