New York, NY - infoZine- Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, and Eat Well Guide, North America's premier free online directory for finding local, sustainable food, have partnered to launch the Thanksgiving Local and Organic Food Challenge. The Thanksgiving Challenge aims to inspire Americans to learn more about local, sustainable or organic food by using Eat Well Guide's comprehensive online tool for finding local ingredients for at least one dish they will prepare as part of their holiday meal.
"At a time of numerous food safety issues, produce and meat recalls, and rising food prices, consumers want to know where their food is coming from, how it's being produced, and what carbon footprint, or 'foodprint,' it might have," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union. "There are many great reasons to buy local: Fresh, local fruits and vegetables may retain more nutrients than produce shipped hundreds of miles. Local food can help cut back on climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions. If they are grown organically, they will help protect air, water and soil quality."
"For Americans, Thanksgiving is the year's peak travel weekend, but there's no reason the food for our feasts has to travel thousands of miles as well," said Eat Well Guide Director Destin Joy Layne. "With the holidays around the corner, and fuel-inflated food costs soaring, this is the perfect time to use our interactive Eat Well Guide to find locally produced turkey, fruit, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, meat and more, wherever you live."
Three noted chefs, Dan Barber, Mario Batali and Alice Waters, long-time supporters of the local and sustainable food movement, each contributed a special recipe to the Thanksgiving Challenge and are encouraging participants to buy local this holiday season and share their favorite recipes using local ingredients.
"There is an ecology of eating. Like any good ecosystem, our diet should be diverse, dynamic and interrelated. So as you're getting ready for Thanksgiving, think of yourself less as a consumer of the harvest bounty and more, in the words of Carlo Petrini of the Slow Food movement, as a co-producer," says Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurants. "Remember what we know intuitively: that we aren't healthy unless our farms are healthy; that the end of the food chain is connected to the beginning of the food chain. There's culture in agriculture, and the more we remember that, our food will be tastier, fresher and more nutritious." Dan contributes a recipe for Saut�ed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Pistachio.
Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California and founder and president of the Chez Panisse Foundation, encourages us to shop at our local farmers' markets for our Thanksgiving dinner produce and to roast a delicious Heritage organic turkey. "These birds are slow growing and spend a large part of their lives grazing and foraging, which results in a deep and complex flavor," she says. "You will be supporting the poultry farmers who are raising special breeds, like Narragansett and Bourbon Red, in a sustainable way that cares for the land." Alice offers a recipe for Chard Gratin.
"When it comes to food, local is best," says Mario Batali, chef/owner of many restaurants in New York City, including Babbo, Lupa, Esca, Casa Mono, Bar Jamn, Otto and Del Posto. "As a chef and as a dad, there's a responsibility that comes with the food I cook and the food we eat. Being thoughtful of where our food comes from, who makes it and how it's made is paramount in all my kitchens. Whether you eat local for political, economical or social motives-the bottom line is that it just tastes better." Try Mario's recipe for Marinated Butternut Squash.
"The local food movement is about sustainability, broadly defined," Eat Well Guide's Destin Layne said. "This not only means consuming wholesome food that sustains our bodies and spirits, but supporting agricultural practices and distribution networks that sustain family farms and local economies-something that's especially important in these economically uncertain times. Consuming local food also helps to preserve the soil, air and clean water that support life on Earth-something we can all be thankful for!"