How to Shop & Source Your Thanksgiving Meal Locally in Wichita

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After a long winter, the onset of spring and the “farmers’ market season” usually spurs a lot of intention and excitement toward local foods producers.  Folks are excited for fresh greens and asparagus, crunchy radishes, tart cherries, tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes, and buttery sweet corn (to name just a few things).

It’s normal for that momentum to wane when back-to-school time approaches and schedules quickly start changing and filling up.

What’s so cool and sometimes overlooked with Kansas grown, raised, and produced foods is that local is always in season and with our temperate climate, there are always new things to look forward to and enjoy.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to consider adding some local goodness to your table.  Meats, veggies, cheeses and other dairy products, honey, jams, jellies, summer sausages, flours, breads and other baked goods, and handcrafted seasonings and condiments are all available from local producers (even in November and throughout the winter!)

There are many options for locally-raised proteins like beef roasts, lamb, whole chicken, pork, and duck.  If tradition is your jam, some producers even raise turkeys; however, it’s best to be proactive on this option as they usually sell out well before the big day.  Our family actually prefers to roast a whole chicken with veggies or to have leg of lamb.  Both are nutritious, local options that blow the flavor of conventional store-bought turkey out of the water.

Cool season vegetables will be in season at many local farms as well and could include a whole array of greens (think lettuces, arugula, kale, cabbage, rainbow chard, and others), beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, and fennel.  Fresh herbs like savory, rosemary, sage, chives, marjoram, oregano, parsley, lovage, and thyme add a whole other level of fresh, complex flavor too.

Long storing crops like winter squashes (including pumpkin!), garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples and pears can be purchased from some area growers.

How Do You Find These Foods?

Many local farmers and producers began offering online ordering with local pickup and delivery options in the spring of 2020, so procuring local foods has never been easier.  Once you find some producers you love, stay connected with them by subscribing to email newsletters or following them on social media.  If you’re new to shopping local foods, resources like ICT Food Circle or Shop Kansas Farms can help enlighten you to the amazing local food system that is in and around the Wichita area.

In-person options are also available as the Old Town Farm & Art Market continues outdoors every Saturday through December 18.  The westside Kansas Grown Farmers’ Market has periodic indoor markets throughout the “off season” (November through March) as well.  Area markets do tend to be smaller this time of year, but there’s still plenty of bounty to be had.  Meeting and building relationships with the individuals that produce your food is an amazing experience.

It’s true that you’ll be hard pressed to find everything that’s locally in-season in one place, but shopping around directly from these small business producers will literally sustain them through the winter.  It might not be quite as convenient as Click-List, but you’ll be rewarded by your extra effort with some extraordinarily fresh, high-quality foods and that warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing you’re supporting family businesses who are a part of your community.

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Megan is a Wichita native, K-State horticulture grad and WAHM. She lives on the northwest side of town with her partner Wes and their young son (b. 2015), where together they operate their regenerative garlic and vegetable farm, Orie’s Farm Fresh. As a passionate local and organic food advocate, Megan enjoys engaging with the Wichita community on a weekly basis at farmers’ markets and local events. She also harnesses her love of healthy and seasonal eating by sharing real food meal ideas, recipes, and tips on growing food on her Instagram blog, Mama Makes Food.

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