Using all local ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast can be difficult in Sheridan County. Late November is too frigid for most vegetables, and one can only eat so much squash. Denver is as local as Turkeys come, and there is nary a cranberry bog in sight. That doesn’t mean there are zero options for families looking to prepare a healthy, organic, mostly local feast for the Thanksgiving holiday. Sheridan County has grown increasingly resourceful in this regard and, with a little creativity, you can serve a meal to satisfy the entire family.
Once upon a time, turkeys were raised commercially in Sheridan County. In 1885, at the first County Fair, there were many poultry prizes awarded in categories including chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigeons, and eagles, according to local historian Judy Slack.
“Another thing that saved a lot of people in the 20s and 30s was turkey production,” she told The Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Children were excused from school when it was time to process the birds. Girls would clean and de-feather them, while boys were put to work as butchers.
These days, Sacketts Market is at the top of everyone’s list for tasty turkeys. One Yelp review sums up what seems to be the general consensus: “Our Thanksgiving turkey (organic, natural) is the item prompting this review. It was simply the best turkey we have ever had. My husband could even tell the difference in both texture and taste from the standard grocery store turkey. This turkey had real flavor and the meat was not mushy like so many birds I’ve tasted in recent years. I don’t usually like the breast meat but it was juicy and had real flavor.”
Sacketts is run by Christina Haworth and Paul Sackett Haworth and has historic roots in local food. Paul’s great-great grandfather, John Henry Sackett was a hunter and guide for the Buffalo Bill show in the 1800’s and was fond of travelling through the Big Horn area. He spent a lot of time away from his family in Nebraska, and decided to change his career and move his family to Big Horn. He partnered with Charles Skinner and they started transporting goods from the trains in Cheyenne to Big Horn. They sold provisions out of their wagons until they eventually built The Big Horn Mercantile that is still owned by the Skinner family today.
Sackett’s Market says that their mission is to offer “back to basics” quality foods free from all of the chemicals, additives, and preservatives that are found in our foods today. They provide all natural meats, cheeses, beverages, produce and dairy. Many of their products are farmed, raised, or made in Wyoming and Montana.
Since they opened for business, Sackett’s Market has ordered turkeys for people, fresh from Denver, never frozen, arriving on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Christina says that there is always a waiting list.
As for produce, Sackett’s and Lloyd Craft Farms in Worland can provide a surprising variety of fresh vegetables for this late in the season.
Melissa Smith at the Golden Rule Grocery prides herself on providing food that isn’t genetically modified. Along with the ubiquitous local squash, the Golden Rule offers local non-GMO beef such as that raised by the Lohof family.
Smith says that she prides herself on providing meat from animals raised on a natural diet, which tends to be more lean. “I could just make a buck and sell anything,” she says, “But I want to provide the best food possible. I’m very strict.”
The Golden Rule Grocery says that they are, “…founded on the belief that our customers should be able to live a healthy lifestyle through the use of products that truly promote their well-being.”
Short of raising turkeys in your backyard (which might be a possibility, Sheridan Seed sells organic seeds and Melissa can provide butchering instruction) she suggests a beef pot pie or a leg of lamb; maybe skip the traditional in favor of a hearty fresh feast utilizing local onions, carrots, butter, and flour.
For dessert, she thinks that an apple pie with local honey, or pumpkin or butternut-squash pies might fill the bill. “Eating organic non- GMO forces you to be creative,” she says.
The Golden Rule
2047 Coffeen Avenue
Donna Garland, owner of the Health Nut & Wellness Center says that they will have organic yams, potatoes, onions, butternut squash, cranberries, and apples.
The Health Nut has both free-range and organic turkeys. They offer pre-made stuffing or gluten-free croutons prepared in the deli, which can be made into a yummy stuffing. For vegans, the hazelnut cranberry roast is delicious, according to Garland. Also, The Health Nut has coconut eggnog from November throughout the holidays.
Pies are made in-house, using vegetable shortening, and coconut milk whipped cream. Donna is very proud of her pies and she is confident that the pies, and the crust in particular, will win people over. You can preorder pies, via Facebook, on the phone, or in person and they can even bake them for you.
The Health Nut & Wellness Center
625 E. 5th St. #101
Nuts, Herbs, and Seasonings
Keith and Christine Klement, owners of the Good Health Market, are passionate about local food. “We really want to encourage other small businesses and entrepreneurs,” they say. They carry locally grown meats, eggs, produce and honey as well as local soaps, coffees, and crafts.
For a Thanksgiving feast, they would recommend organic Shiloh Valley pork, turkey, Alaskan salmon, cod, or beef. There will also be squash, fresh cranberries, and dried fruits available on their shelves.
The Klements aim to compete with large chain stores by providing high-quality foods for low prices. “It’s all about good food for family at Thanksgiving,” Keith says. “We’re thankful for our customers because we wouldn’t be here without them.”
The Good Health Market
1821 S Sheridan Avenue