Cleaver & Co. is a locally sourced butcher shop that relies on farmers who provide the livestock with natural diets – not antibiotics – and room to roam. The store will offer “heritage turkeys” from Kansas this holiday, though it is working with farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi for future seasons. Those willing to host non-traditional Thanksgiving dinners can purchase locally sourced beef, pork, ducks, chickens and rabbits.

“[The animals] are not only more humanely raised, but [they’re] also better tasting and more healthy for us and the environment,” says Seth Hamstead of Cleaver & Co.

Hamstead and others believe that this type of agriculture maintains the connection among the livestock, the farmers, the retailer and the customer. In fact, Hamstead has all of his farmers’ cell phone numbers. “We talk constantly about the quality of the animals they are raising and any customer feedback we get,” says Hamstead.

Jerica Cadman of Shady Grove Ranch, a sustainable family farm in Jefferson, Texas, agrees that buying locally produced food allows the consumer to have an intimate connection with where and how their food is raised. “Buying locally produced food has the potential to put a larger portion of the consumer’s dollar into the hand of the farmer who raised the food …,” Cadman says. These practices help to build a sustainable economy, a point on which Henry Hoffstadt, owner of Hoffstadt Farms in Kentwood, agrees. “Local businesses have a unique concern for our city and state’s wellbeing,” says Hoffstadt, who farms greenhouse tomatoes. “When you buy local there’s a lot of heart and dedication that goes into the finished product,” and “when you buy local you’re taking care of local families.”

Due to Louisiana’s growing seasons, those who wish to buy local for the holidays may need to be flexible with the ingredients they use. Bill Pastellak of Hollygrove Market and Farm explains that during Thanksgiving, citrus, greens, cabbages, sweet potatoes and broccoli are all readily available from local growers. In this way, Thanksgiving in New Orleans can take on a new meaning for families. As Pastellak suggests, “by having access to local food, you deepen your relationship to the place you are from, recognizing (and appreciating) the differences and peculiarities that make your Thanksgiving here unique, not something that can just be picked up off the shelf of any grocery store.”