Thanksgiving: A Local Affair

WASHINGTON, DC—At Glen’s Garden Market, Thanksgiving is a local affair. With a holiday menu of organic-fed turkeys and sage sausage stuffing, owner Danielle Vogel stresses the importance of knowing where your food came from and giving thanks to the planet by being friendly to it.

Customers who shop at Glen’s, an entirely sustainable and locally sourced grocery store, this holiday season will have the option of ordering a sustainable Thanksgiving feast. While the average meal travels 1,500 miles to get to the dinner table—producing a large carbon footprint—Glen’s “Locavore’s Thanksgiving Feast,” is based on seasonality and locality.

“We’re calling, it ‘we’ll cook everything but the bird,’” says Vogel. “The fact that it’s a sustainable Thanksgiving is just consistent with what we do on a daily basis.”

The Inside of Glen's

Vogel, an environmental lawyer, left her decade-long career on Capitol Hill to become a grocer. After working on a failed climate change bill, Vogel realized that “the prognosis for progress in Congress was poor based on the political realities of the day. I wanted to found a business explicitly to make climate change progress, which is why we’re here.”

Vogel opened Glen’s just six months ago on Earth Day 2013. Located near DuPont Circle in Washington D.C., at 2001 F St. NW, the store itself is built with walls made from recycled cattle fencing, countertops designed using recycled paper and basket-shaped light fixtures made from cardboard. Beneath the surface, the kitchen uses energy efficient cooking equipment and refrigeration systems and practices a no waste mandate. “Every single decision I make for this business is made with the environment in mind,” says Vogel. “There is virtually no garbage coming out of the kitchen and we don’t offer any paper or plastic bags at all—it’s all reusable bags.”

Most importantly, according to Vogel, everything Glen’s sells is sourced from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, an area reaching from Virginia up to New York. In addition to minimizing transportation emissions, which are one of the top three sources of greenhouse gas emissions, Vogel says, “we seek out a super small batch of artisanal food creators…so we are not adding to the extremely environmentally burdensome process of massive industrial farming.”

In addition to an environmentally friendly mission, Glen’s is also about traditions. “My father was a grocer and his father was a grocer and also my mother’s father was a grocer,” says Vogel, who named the market after her father Glen S. Rosengarten, a creator of NYC’s Food Emporium.

As a lady of traditions, Vogel along with her staff created a Thanksgiving menu that offers a variety of traditional holiday items because “nobody wants to sit down at their Thanksgiving table without their stuffing and their mashed potatoes,” says Vogel. Grocery-shoppers can decide to order the full menu or order certain items of their choice individually.

Vogel broke down her menu for us:

The Menu BoardFirst Course:

  • “First we have a cheese course. Obviously all the cheeses are locally sourced. Almost all of our cheeses come from Pennsylvania and we’ve got a couple from New York.” The plate is called the “cheesemonger’s selection.”
  • Next is the charcuterie course. “We’re making all our own sausages, salamis and pepperonis in-house.”

Soups & Sides:

  • The pumpkins used in pumpkin soup are coming from Lancaster County and the oysters used in the oyster stew are local as well, “they’re from Virginia.”
  • “And then obviously, you need stuffing and cranberry sauce.” Glen’s is offering these standard sides, such as roasted garlic mashed potatoes, bourbon maple glazed sweet potatoes and sage sausage stuffing, with a little bit of a local twist. “We’ve got Cream Swiss Chard; I haven’t seen that coming out of the supermarket before.”
  • “Instead of doing bacon and Brussels sprouts because we can’t get enough Brussels sprouts locally, we’re doing what we’re calling ‘Apples and Roots.’ It’s apple season and roots are abundant right now.”
  • “Because Hanukah starts the day of Thanksgiving this year, we wanted to do a little nod to a Hanukah dish. We make our own pastrami here; we get the meat from right outside Baltimore. We smoke it and cure it here and we steam it and it’s delectable. We’re doing a hickory wood roasted cabbage with pastrami.”

Main Course:

  • “I bought a flock of turkeys from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. They are organic-fed, pasture raised, hormone-free and antibiotic-free.” The turkeys have also never been frozen. “That’s very A-typical of a supermarket.”
  • “And then in addition to the option of buying the whole bird, we’re doing an oven-ready brine turkey breast if people have a smaller party of two or even three. The only cooking the host will have to do is “pop it in the oven.”
  • There’s also a vegetarian option. “We’re doing a whole roast Hubbard Squash. It’s giant and it looks like a turkey. We’re going to take it and hallow it out and stuff it with fruits and grains and nuts so you can feel like you’ve got something really beautiful on the table even though its vegetarian.”

Dessert:

  • Glen’s does little baking in-house, so the desserts will be coming from Whisked!, a DC-based bakery. Customers will be able to choose from apple, pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate bourbon pecan pies.

“It’s cool stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily think to cook yourself that are fun and nutritious and local and sustainable and all the things they should be,” says Vogel.

Vogel projects that all types of people will be ordering the local feast this holiday season based on the clientele at Glen’s. “Both people that are attracted to the concept that are going to go farther than you typically would travel to go grocery shopping,” says Vogel, describing the market’s typical costumer, “and just people who are in the neighborhood…coming here for lunch or dinner. The clientele is definitely more diverse than I would have anticipated, which is fantastic.”

Ordering a Thanksgiving plate or an entire meal from Glen’s “Locavore menu” this holiday season means knowing exactly where the food came from and knowing that it’s fresh and didn’t harm the environment.

“It’s kind of nice to know where your food came from,” says Vogel. “It’s nice to know the farmer you’re supporting by buying the fingerling potato that looks kind of crazy but tastes awesome. It’s nice to see him walk the fingerlings off the trust with his dirty hands and know the guy’s name is Zach. It’s cool!”

Local Butternut Squash

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