Day 63: Take Thanksgiving from blog post to article

November 5, 2010 § 1 Comment

From blog to article, check out how Day 59 translated into a publishable piece:

How your Thanksgiving menu can represent the Northern ‘burbs

This Thanksgiving, eating natural local foods and eating affordably do not have to be mutually exclusive.

It’s easy to preach the gospel of local and organic at a fancy cocktail party, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, Americans like the classics and they like them in gut-busting quantities. However, as times change, such a philosophy does not necessarily jibe with popular food movements.

“I see the culinary world pushing forward with the organic movement,” says Pete Trusiak, culinary director of the Viking Culinary Institute in Glenview. “I see it getting stronger in the mainstream.”

So, what does the future of Thanksgiving look like?

Local and organic foods get a bad rap for being expensive and inconvenient to find. However, small stores throughout the North Shore suburbs serve as a middle ground between Whole Foods and the local farmer’s market.

Bird is the Word

Frozen, pre-basted turkeys have become synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner. However, Harrison’s Poultry Farm on 1201 Waukegan Road in Glenview is determined to set the record straight.

Harrison’s sells an average of 10,000 turkeys in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving, according to owner Jim Zimmerman. Known for their all-natural, free-range poultry, Harrison’s is the place to score a bird for $2.25 a pound.

Some might find that a bit expensive compared to the average cost per pound of a Butterball. But Zimmerman says the differences between his turkeys and pre-basted Butterballs are like night and day.

“The only reason you pre-baste a turkey is to give it more weight,” Zimmerman says. “Then you can charge whatever-per-pound for water. A turkey doesn’t need that.”

Basting solutions hover around 7 percent of the total weight of a whole frozen turkey, according to the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. Commercial producers pack poultry into small cages, force-feeding them to increase their weight, according to the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

Harrison’s free-range birds are given the opportunity to walk around the pen unfettered, instead of being confined to cramped cages. The workout regimen Harrison’s birds receive allows them to build muscle naturally – think the Michael Phelps of the poultry world.

Buying an all-natural bird will practically ensure your turkey will ooze flavorful juices, with so little body fat that almost every ounce of meat is edible.  Furthermore, you can take pride in the fact that, thanks to your basting skills, you’re the architect of the flavors, not some syringe full of herbs and spices.

North Side Sides

Next, consider your Thanksgiving staples, such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and sweet potatoes. The components can be purchased at local grocers like Produce World Deli and More at 8800 Waukegan Road in Morton Grove and Village Market Place at 4034 W. Dempster St. in Skokie.

At Village Market Place you can grab a three-pound bag of onions for $1.69, sweet potatoes for 59 cents a pound and a pound of fresh green beans for $1.30. Also, snag a package of thyme sprigs to flavor the turkey for 99 cents, as well as eggs and butter from Chicago’s own Dutch Farms.

Buying equivalent products in the same quantities at Jewel-Osco would cost almost $9 more.

Be sure to ditch the canned gelatinous cranberry sauce for homemade. Canned sauce is often stripped of nutrients found in natural cranberries, says Dina Aburmishan, registered dietician and owner of DMA Nutrition Inc.

“[Manufacturers] sometimes remove the skin of the cranberry,” Aburmishan says. “The skin has a lot of the fiber.”

Local cranberries, the official state fruit of Wisconsin, can grace your table on the fourth Thursday of November. Our neighbor to the north produces more cranberries than any other state, according to the website of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.

Even if you give in and head to Dominick’s or Jewel-Osco, don’t forsake the sustainability gods. Day old bread from the bakery, discounted and slightly stale, is perfect for stuffing. Other ways to stay true to the environment include limiting yourself to seasonal produce. That means forgetting the banana cream pie and embracing the traditional pumpkin.

Dinner is Served

So do Mother Nature a solid by going local and all-natural this Thanksgiving for a fraction of the cost. As John F. Kennedy might have said, “Ask not what your turkey can do for you – ask what you can do for your turkey.”

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