Last night John and Rocio had Ben, Edge and I over for a heritage turkey dinner. John made a fruit stuffing of peaches (canned by Ben this summer), Vermont cranberries, and pistachios. Hatchbrook Garden mashed potatoes, and kale that John and Rocio froze for the winter also graced the table, making it a true farm dinner. To top it off, we even had a choice of home-brewed porter or maple champagne. It was my first time eating a heritage turkey. Up until last night broad-breasted turkeys always held the center of the table at mealtime, but this was a delicious change. The turkey was only six pounds, but it’s meat was so dense and juicy that it made up for its small size. Never before had I enjoyed such a deep flavor from a turkey, and the fruit stuffing on top of the crisp skin melded so perfectly with the meat, it was as if the bird had been fed peaches and cranberries all summer.
There is something very powerful about meals like this that we share on many levels. Everyone at the table last night spent energy bringing the meal together: raising the turkey through the spring, summer, and fall; planting and harvesting the potatoes and garlic; preserving the fruit; brewing the beer and champagne; and supporting one another through months of chores, haying, planting, weeding, and harvesting. I have heard a new catchword lately—hyperlocal—and this must be what it means. A whole meal from one farm, and that farm being the place where we live.
As the local food movement expands across Vermont and the US, let us remember the meaning behind words. A movement is nothing without deep commitment and passion for a greater good. Local is more than the number of miles traveled. Local is a relationship between people, a relationship between people and their food, and a relationship between people and the land. These relationships are always magnified in the winter, when we look into the root cellar and freezer and can feed ourselves without driving to the grocery store. Instead, we are receiving back the energy we gave away this past summer and fall when we worked to raise our food. I find myself thankful again, long after Thanksgiving, to be part of this cycle of land, food, and people—to be part of this cycle of change.