Thanksgiving always has been a favorite holiday in our house. Spending the entire day in the kitchen preparing a beautiful special meal, sharing time with friends and family and anticipating days of great leftovers is right up our alley!
We all take time that day to acknowledge — and be thankful for — the things that are most meaningful to us: good friends, family around the table, good health. This Thanksgiving we find ourselves feeling quite thankful for something more — the dedicated and inspirational farmers and food producers who call the North Olympic Peninsula home and who produce the food we eat.
Since arriving in Sequim we have been fortunate enough to develop a meaningful connection to our food and its producers. This wasn’t always so. In the days before Sequim we had four supermarkets in our neighborhood; meat came from a counter, milk came from the dairy section and vegetables always were available.
Becoming connected to our food and its sources transformed our lives and worldview. For the first time we actually understand the basic concept “We are what we eat.” There are many people here who have helped us forge this connection, and this season we would like to thank and acknowledge them.
We are grateful to Nash Huber of Nash’s Organic Produce and his team of “next generation” farmers whose exceptional vegetables opened our eyes — and our taste buds — to the concept of locally grown food.
Nash is a nationally recognized leader and pioneer organic farmer prescient enough to understand that his most important role is training the next generation to farm.
It is impossible to calculate the impact that Nash has had on farming and food production, and more importantly on the people who do it, here on the peninsula.
We feel fortunate to live in the same town as Jeff and Debbie Brown, and Sarah and Ryan McCarthey, of the Dungeness Valley Creamery, who navigate a multitude of rules and regulations to make real raw milk available to consumers.
Unpasteurized, non-homogenized milk “straight from the cow” is costly and difficult to produce, but these trailblazers push forward so that regular consumers can enjoy this wholesome food.
We are deeply appreciative of Tom and Holly Clark, who have undertaken the Herculean effort to make ethically raised, grass-fed beef and pastured pork available “by the cut” to local consumers.
Not many people are lucky enough to live where they can visit with a farmer who produces such exceptional meat and then buy a pound of ground beef or a single pork chop, rather than an entire “side.” Most in Sequim wouldn’t have access to local grass-fed meat without the Clarks.
We are thankful for Christie and Kelly Johnston of Johnston Farms. It is easy to romanticize the lifestyle of a “market farmer” but it is more hard work than you can imagine.
In addition to the actual farm work, these multi-taskers need to attend multiple farmers markets every weekend, keep a well-stocked farm store and build and maintain wholesale accounts.
We think of them with gratitude every time we bite into a crisp salad.
We are forever grateful to Mary and Herman Horst of M&H Farm, who have been quietly feeding the people of Sequim for decades from their corner booth at the Sequim Open Aire Market.
We especially appreciate Mary and Herman for taking us under their wing and teaching us about what it means to grow food for people, as well as how to do it.
Finally, we give thanks for the many people in our community who are supporting these producers by going the extra step to seek out their products: the dedicated customers of The Red Rooster Grocery; the “rain or shine” shoppers at the Sequim Open Aire Market; the long-time Nash’s patrons who enthusiastically sign up for farm shares and who shop regularly in Dungeness.
Do you feel fortunate to have access to so much great local food?
Are you grateful for these farmers and the food they produce?
Have you made a personal connection to your food? It is so easy to do.
Think about the three local farmers, food producers, or businesses that you most appreciate. Which three would you miss the most if they ceased to exist?
Now, make the commitment to yourself to make their products a regular part of your routine.
Make the commitment to be an active participant in our local economy.
Make the commitment to get connected to your food and its sources.
It just might change your life and give you something new to give thanks for this Thanksgiving holiday.
Eat well and be well!