The Deer and the Turkey

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The next holiday our nation will celebrate will be Thanksgiving, and I hear many, many folks remark that this may be one of their favorite holidays. I might assume this is because you can enjoy great food, family, and fellowship without all the undue stress of the upcoming Christmas season. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think turkey, since this has been the standard main protein source as long as I can remember. A little research shows that the first event, which became the precursor to our national holiday, actually involved deer. You see, this first event was all locally sourced! The local Wampanoags, a Native American Indian tribe, brought venison or deer meat to share with the Pilgrims at Plymouth that autumn in 1621. Of course, it is fairly obvious their meal must have been locally sourced since they didn’t have the industrialized options we do today. Industry estimates indicate that sales of local food in the United States have almost doubled in recent years, from $5 billion spent in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014, and continues to grow.

Sourcing and supporting local foods offers many benefits, including community development. Recent studies have shown that involvement in farmers markets, CSAs, or food cooperatives increases peoples’ engagement in the community through a sense of pride and “civic duty” (Vasi et al., 2015; Carolan, 2017; Rumble and Lundy, 2017). Where relations between producers and consumers are frequented and strengthened, civic responsibility increases among the individuals. Civic duty increases a person’s interest in other aspects of the community, including food insecurities. So just like the first locally-sourced Thanksgiving celebration that encouraged unity in a newly configured community, I would like to encourage you to not only support your local foods system, but also support your local businesses.

Small Business Saturday comes one day after “Black Friday” and encourages everyone to take the opportunity to support locally owned small businesses. Along those lines, Robeson County Farmers Market will celebrate its annual Very Local Holiday Festival the first Saturday in December. So mark your calendars for Saturday, December 7, 2019, to visit the market, located at the corner of 8th and Elm Streets in downtown Lumberton, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. We will offer our usual variety of fresh seasonal greens, sweet potatoes, and more. This festival also sponsors local crafters and artisans selling their wares, just in time to find that special hand-crafted gift for someone that may be hard to buy for. We have knitters, potters, jewelry makers, caricature artist, and more scheduled to attend this festival. North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center’s very own Family and Consumer Science Agent, Janice Fields, will also provide some tasty morsels highlighting the produce sold at the market. Make plans to visit the market, buy your fresh produce, shop for someone special, try a new recipe, and help strengthen our community. By the way, we won’t have deer or turkey, but we should have some pastured pork and beef!

For more information, contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent, at 910-671-3276, by email at, or visit our website.

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