A Cap & Trade Thanksgiving

My family is coming for Thanksgiving this year and in the spirit of the season, we wanted to try and do something a little different, a 100-mile Thanksgiving.

The 100-mile movement is a local eating experiment whereby you buy food that is locally raised and produced from within a 100-mile radius of where you live.  We have 22 family and friends coming from up and down the East coast from Ithaca, NY to Tampa, and while the family is generally sympathetic to green-living, it required some friendly advice to pull it off. So, I sent an e-mail describing the concept and offering helpful advice, tips, links, etc.

We did our part, ordering a bunch of stuff from our milk man and local farm, Southmountain Creamery. We spent Sunday morning at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market and found all sorts of fabulous greens, yams, “Dr. Seuss” cauliflower, herbs, cheeses and chicken for stock. Once the kids warmed up with hot cocoa and croissants it was a terrific morning all around.

As for the rest of the guests, at first I heard nothing back from my email.

Then a few requests to resend the email.


My sister-in-law from Brooklyn jumped in with apple-pear chutney to replace cranberry sauce. She also asked if chocolate from Jacques Torres in Brooklyn qualified. We decided, since one cannot pass up Jacques Torres Chocolate and we’re making a similar exception for coffee, that products with raw materials that cannot be found within a 100 miles (cocoa nibs, coffee beans) can be brought if they are processed locally. So, Jacques Torres is in as is Gimme Coffee! roasted in Ithaca, NY.

My mother-in-law from Tampa wanted to bring key-limes for pie. But, she then emailed asking if I could buy Carnation condensed milk “locally”! I asked my husband to call her and explain that condensed milk was not in the spirit of the 100-mile meal, but he refused. Emails flew back and forth. Homemade condensed milk wouldn’t do the trick. Our friend Steve, who so embraced the 100 mile meal that he’s making his own potato starch, emailed an incredible Alice Waters recipe for a tangerine tart that he has made with key limes and that does not call for condensed milk. Finally, Steve wrote my husband an email to try and keep the peace:

But maybe Jennifer should consider a sort of cap and trade program. I make 1/4 cup of my own potato starch and sell your mom a credit with which your mom can buy an offset to cover 8 ounces of condensed milk. I find local flour — BINGO — and mom can buy enough offsets to fly a mail order key lime pie in from Kansas City.

Good idea…I wish I had thought of that!  Have a happy thanksgiving!

Please note that much of this comes from posts on OrganicMania.com, a guide to making sense out of healthy green living.


Photo: Rachel Spauldilng

About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .