100-Mile Thanksgiving Returns Nov. 14!

In what is become an annual tradition, Slow Food Seacoast invites the public to a potluck Thanksgiving feast to share the best of the harvest from local farms, gardens, and kitchens.

On Friday evening, November 14th, 2008, Slow Food invites the public to a 100-Mile Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner at the Portsmouth Pearl, 45 Pearl Street, Portsmouth, NH, from 6:00-9:30 PM. Slow Food Seacoast will serve up locally raised roasted turkeys from Kellie Brook Farm in Greenland, NH and present a fun program featuring speakers, music, and information from organizations working toward a sustainable, healthy and affordable regional food supply for everyone.

In this “learn by eating” event, participants are invited to bring potluck dishes featuring at least one ingredient grown or raised within 100 miles of home. Guest speakers from farmers to food writers will give short talks on the history and lore of the familiar Turkey Day dinner, and share hints, sources and methods for planning your own hometown harvest celebration. How did the classics – turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie – end up with a permanent place on our Thanksgiving menus? Why is Thanksgiving a perfect time to celebrate New England agriculture? Where can a home cook find the makings of a local Thanksgiving meal? We’ll explore all these topics and more to provide new inspiration for your holiday table. Seacoast Eat Local will be present to share information about their upcoming Holiday Farmer’s Markets, timed just right to stock up on fresh, locally grown foods for special dinners.

“Historically, the majority of our food came from within 100 miles of our kitchens,” says John Forti, co-leader of Slow Food Seacoast and Curator of Historic Landscapes at Strawbery Banke Museum. “Today, less than 6% of our agricultural products come from NH — some might say a dangerously low percentage. This Slow Food Seacoast event offers us a chance to meet the pleasant and worthwhile challenge of cooking from fresh ingredients sourced locally. Truly something to be thankful for!”

And the sharing of the bounty won’t stop at the table. Money raised from admission donations will help the UNH Cornucopia Food Pantry distribute “Baskets of Hope,” holiday baskets featuring delicious produce fresh from local farms. Funds from 100-Mile Thanksgiving will purchase food directly at local holiday farmer’s markets. UNH students will assemble baskets on the spot and deliver them in time for needy residents’ holiday meals.

The 100-Mile Thanksgiving was originally inspired by the writings of Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, a Canadian couple who challenged themselves to spend a year living on just the ingredients available from within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, BC. Through chronicles on their website The 100-Mile Diet, they struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, nspiring thousands of individuals and even whole communities to try their own local eating challenges. Here in the Portsmouth area, Seacoast Eat Local took up the charge by promoting Eat Local Challenges in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Slow Food Seacoast adopted the idea for its first large public event, holding its inaugural 100-Mile Thanksgiving in November, 2006.

Since then, the event has become a highlight of the Slow Food Seacoast year. “100-Mile Thanksgiving is a great convergence of so many things we value,” says Rachel Forrest, food and dining editor for the Seacoast Media Group and Slow Food member.”Sharing delicious dishes that come from our own traditions, sharing our stories about that wonderful homemade food, taking the time to honor the people who grow and make our food here on the Seacoast by creating a meal from local ingredients…all of that. More importantly, it’s about gathering and breaking bread with friends — and strangers who become friends. It’s really one of the best experiences of community I have all year–and what a feast!’

Since no feast is complete without a way of “working off” all the great food, the event will end with a centuries-old New England entertainment — live music and contra dancing with Stone Soup.

All ages are welcome to join in the feast. Each guest is asked to contribute a potluck dish to serve at least 10 portions, and to bring their own place settings and beverages for this BYOB event. In lieu of an admission fee, Slow Food Seacoast will be accepting a suggested donation of $5 per person. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the UNH Cornucopia Food Pantry’s “Baskets of Hope” program.

Partners in the Feast:

The Portsmouth Pearl (http://portsmouthpearl.com/) is a restored 1868 curch with a distinguished history as the earliest African-American church structure in New Hampshire. The Pearl’s legacy of positive social change provides an ideal venue for friends to meet, eat, and discuss ways to find and grow good, clean, and fair food right here at home.

Slow Food Seacoast
(http://slowfoodseacoast.blogspot.com/) is the local chapter of Slow Food USA (http://www.slowfoodusa.org/), whose 200 chapters celebrate the amazing bounty of food that is available locally and work to strengthen the connection between the food on our plates and the health of our planet. Members work to raise public awareness, improve access to affordable fresh food, and encourage the sincere enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal, and sustainably grown with respect for the land, the livestock, and the labor that produces them. We believe in good, clean, and fair food for all, and in the pleasures of the common table.

Seacoast Eat Local ( http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/about.html) is a grassroots group working to connect consumers with sources of locally grown and locally made foods. They advocate eating locally for ecological, social, cultural, and environmental reasons. In addition to the annual Eat Local Challenge, Seacoast Eat Local hosts winter farmer’s markets, co-produces an annual Local Foods Resource Guide with Slow Food Seacoast, and gathers and shares sources of local food via its website. Seacoast Eat Local will host its first 2008 Holiday Potluck on November 22 at McIntosh Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover.

The UNH Cornucopia Food Pantry (http://www.cornucopia.unh.edu/food_pantry.html) provides food and other support to UNH students, staff, faculty and their families. Cornucopia runs food basket drives every Thanksgiving and Winter Holiday season, along with another in the spring. Last year, they provided approximately 370 food gift baskets to families and served about 250 people on a weekly and emergency basis. Cornucopia is a partnership of the UNH Chaplains Association, the United Campus Ministry to UNH, the UNH Office of Community Service and Learning, The UNH Department of Residential Life, and the UNH Department of Housing.

*Additional photos available upon request.