That Thanksgiving dinner? Mostly from out of state
As we Marylanders sit down Thursday to our Thanksgiving feasts, here's food for thought - less than half the traditional holiday meal we'll consume that day was grown locally. Not exactly what the Pilgrims had to be thankful for. And if the state's farmland keeps getting gobbled up by sprawl, even less of our sustenance will be coming from around here.
According to a survey by the land preservation group 1000 Friends of Maryland, 48 percent of our Thanksgiving staples overall are produced in-state. Just 44 percent of the turkeys eaten are raised here, 41 percent of the potatoes (that seems high to me, frankly), 32 percent of the apples, 17 percent of the sweet potatoes and only one-half of 1 percent of the carrots.
The only produce in which Maryland is self-sufficient, or nearly so, according to the group, are snap beans, squash and pumpkins. But if you think about all the pumpkin pies baked and eaten, I'll wager the vast majority of those rely on canned products raised elsewhere as well.
The geographical gap between production and consumption is not unusual. Nationally, most produce travels 1,500 miles on average before being sold, according to the group's report. And about 40% of our fruit and 9% of our red meat is imported from other countries.
Some might think relying on locally produced food is an anachronism. But there's some comfort in knowing where your food comes from, and I've found some of the tastiest fruits, vegetables and seafood I've ever eaten had the shortest trip from harvest to my mouth. This year, my family is dining on a locally raised turkey, but a lot of the farms in Maryland already had sold out by the time we started shopping for one.