This story is sponsored by Birchwood Cafe.
Here’s a vote that is guaranteed to make a difference: the type of pie you place on your Thanksgiving table. Each time we dine, it’s an opportunity to make choices that mirror our values. Who you buy from, what you buy, how you prepare it, how you serve it, and what you do with the leftovers are all expressions of your value system, and have the ability to create positive change toward a healthy food system.
Like any vote, it’s important to know what matters to you, and what outcome you want to see. With food, while it may seem that there are a multitude of choices, simplicity reigns. Do you know who grew your food? Was it grown without harmful chemicals? Was it grown with respect for the land, the animals and the farm workers? If you can answer those questions in the affirmative, you are so much closer to supporting sustainable agriculture, and a healthy food system is accessible and fair for all. At the Birchwood we call it Good Real Food®.
A vote for Good Real Food is truly a vote for delicious food. The pleasure of eating food that was grown with attention, love and care is simply a different experience than eating something never touched by a human hand. The rush of flavor you get from a blue hubbard squash where the seed was placed into the Earth in spring, then tended to throughout the summer, protected from insects and weeds, and nurtured into the fall when they are at last harvested, cured, and brought to the table — this is an experience that tastes better AND makes you feel better. And that’s what Good Real Food is all about — of connecting to our food, and connecting to each other, knowing the hands that sows, cooks and serves your food, and enjoying it with our friends and family. And that’s what you vote for when you bring Birchwood pies to your table.
Our pumpkin pie, the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, is made with fresh, local, organic pumpkin and squash from our friends at Heartbeet Farms, Hungry Turtle, rebel Soil and Garden Farme. Our kitchens are filled to the brim with blue hubbard squash, Musquee de Provence pumpkins and other delightful heirloom varieties that we halve, roast, seed, scoop and then blend with cream-top milk from Crystal Ball Farms, butter from Organic Valley, local eggs, Wisconsin maple syrup and our own homemade pumpkin pie spice. No can opener required! The delicious custard is folded into a buttery pastry crust, or our “you’d never know it’s gluten free” gingersnap crust, and topped with fresh, whipped cream.
This year, a new pie graces our menu and hopefully, your belly — French Silk Pie! Rich, silky chocolate from Cordillera gets mixed with local eggs and house-rendered, heirloom Mangalitsa pork lard. In our quest for sustainability, lard is a beautiful part of our process of using the whole animal and it also happens to create the flakiest pie crust imaginable. Grandma would be so proud! Billowy whipped cream clouds and dark chocolate curls top this pie, creating the ultimate sensory experience.
Other classic pie offerings include our creamy, dreamy Key Lime Pie and our Caramel Apple Streusel Pie, made with local apples tucked beneath a cinnamon-crumble top and drizzled with our house-made caramel.
While we all know that pie would be a universally popular elected official and is the best part of Thanksgiving (and day-after breakfast!), it’s not the only thing on our Thanksgiving ballot, we’ve got delicious sides you can vote for too. Our Maple Squash Mash is a sweet gluten-free, vegan side dish to please all palettes. Add the perfect blend of sweet, tart and zing to your turkey with our Cranberry Pear Chutney, or dress up your salad the Birchwood way with our Pumpkin Maple Vinaigrette. And we have plenty of fresh-baked breads & rolls (with vegan and gluten-free options!) to accompany your meal, or to make the best Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich.
Whichever pie you choose, you can feel comfortable knowing that your vote has made a difference. The Good Real Food we serve travels from the soil, to our kitchen, to YOU by passing through many hands: hands that plant, sow, harvest, clean, transport, prepare, serve, clear, and finally, compost to start the cycle over again — truly innumerable measures! Without the hands of our hardworking farmers; our passionate, creative chefs and bakers; our friendly servers; and our dedicated dishwashers we could not bring you Good Real Food. Without you, our guests, we would not even exist! We have such gratitude for our amazing community of diners, employees, and farmers, and to the interdependence of these relationships that manifest to make the Birchwood Cafe possible. … and each time you dine in support of these relationships, you strengthen them.
Food truly does connect us all, and we are grateful to help connect you, our dear eaters, with food sourced from farmers and producers with honest hearts and clear intentions. We know you care about how your food is grown, treated, handled and prepared, and that you want to be part of a food system that is just, transparent and accessible to everyone. This Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the bountiful harvest and give thanks for the farmers who work tirelessly caring for our land and growing good food.
Connecting to where our food comes from reveals how connected we are to the land, the animals, the environment, and, ultimately, to each other. What affects one of us, affects us all, and our food choices DO have an impact — either in support of the existing corporate-controlled, discriminatory system or in the creation of a new, transparent, fair, and equitable one. We’ll be showcasing our gratefulness for these interconnected relationships all month long and we invite you to plug in to our practice of gratitude and be the change we want to see. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as we give thanks to our community.
With each meal, and each slice of pie, you have the opportunity to “be the change” and choose foods that are sourced with a consciousness for the entire food system. As our friends from Food Democracy NOW say, “democracy is like a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets.” So vote! Vote with your fork (translation: eat more pie!), vote with the businesses you choose to support, and vote with your vote! Vote for candidates who support transparency and policy to dismantle corporate control, vote for people with a long view for regenerative agriculture, and who will champion food, support farmers, and make it possible for everyone to enjoy Good Real Food. Ultimately we create the world we want to live in, and while there is a lot of work to do, certain choices are easy as pie. Happy Thanksgiving, with love and gratitude from Tracy and the Birchwood Cafe.