Thanksgiving: the Farmers’ Holiday

Thanksgiving: the Farmers’ Holiday

Food & Drink

Thanksgiving: the Farmers’ Holiday


The Thanksgiving holiday has long been thought of as the holiday of the harvest, a time when we give thanks for the earth’s bounty—and, yes, it has expanded to a celebration of everything else we have to be thankful for, too.

But even going back to the “First Thanksgiving” and the sharing of food between the pilgrims and Native Americans, it’s really always been a very food-focused holiday.

Now, with today’s emphasis on being green and eating local, the focus has narrowed a bit, making the holiday an ideal time to celebrate end enjoy the cornucopia of fresh foods raised and grown locally on farms right in our own neck of the woods (as a certain TV weather celeb might say).

And who best to commemorate the holiday in this fashion than the farmers themselves? One such example can be found in the person of Andrew Brait, who runs the Full Belly Farm near Sacramento, Calif. He hosts a Thanksgiving feast with about 40 or 50 people in attendance. Most of the guests are other farmers, and everybody brings something. This is a pot luck where everyone’s in luck.

The feast at Full Belly Farm is built around crops that were in the ground just hours before. Thanksgiving becomes a time to showcase the year’s efforts from working the fields.

“Thanksgiving is absolutely a farmer’s holiday,” Brait told Amanda Gold, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Brait grows nearly 100 crops throughout the year, and what he serves up on the big holiday is whatever is “absolutely seasonal” right then. Lots of root vegetables are on the table, served simply—things like baby yellow beets, turnips, rutabagas, and creamer potatoes.

Warren Weber, another California farmer interviewed by Gold, also keeps things simple and local for Thanksgiving, with a focus on fresh salads and greens.

Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Farm in Santa Cruz County is renowned for his dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes that peak in late summer. This time of year he harvests roots, crucifers, greens, and chicories, which can usually be found on his Thanksgiving table—as well as warm salads made with romanesco, shallots, radicchio that grow on his farm.

A farmer’s Thanksgiving sounds really good, doesn’t it–especially a California farmer’s feast.

One thing for sure, we should all be thankful for America’s farmers on this holiday, and, really, every day.

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