In case you missed our headlong dive into the wonderful world of soy poultry substitutes (Huah Tofurky) it is now time for veggie talk.  Whether vegetables are to play the lead role in an herbivorous Thanksgiving meal, or serve as sides for an omnivore's feast, they are not to be overlooked.

We're going to go out on a limb and say that beans are fabulous.  They are packed with protein and like snowflakes, no two quite the same.  You’ve got your Golden Lima Beans, Dark Kidney Beans, Light Kidney Beans, Cannellini Beans, Green Flageolot Beans, Dutch Bullet Beans, Calypso Beans, Jacob’s Gold Beans, Painted Pony Beans, October Beans, Jacob’s Cattle Gasless Beans, Good Mother Stallard Beans, Vermont Cranberry Beans.

The more colorful the bean the more antioxidants it has, so have fun choosing the prettiest.  Purchase beans (aka the magical fruit) online at Seed Savers Exchange a non-profit organization that has been saving and sharing heirloom seeds since 1975, and receive a seeds to plant for next year, or buy the beans ready to serve.  Once you have the beans, go with a nice Succotash, which comes from the Native American Narragansett, msikwatash.  

The long elegant green, or string bean (haricot vert) is a perennial Thanksgiving star. If you see fresh, unwithered, firm-to-the-touch organic or local green beans at the market, grab a handful. They'll be scarcely any trouble:  Just break off stems,  rinse, blanche quickly in boiling water, and give a light stir-fry with toasted almonds, and voila. We recommend organic because conventional green beans have pesticide residues placing them 14th highest on Environmental Working Group's  handy list of 45 fruits and vegetables (the lowly onion was lowest).  If you have already canned green beans from the summer time, when they are in season, check out GreenBeansNMore.com.  If you haven't got a stash, frozen vegetables score high in nutritional value and flavor with NYU nutritionist and healthy eating guru, Marion Nestle. A green bean disclaimer however: Last month a woman in New Zealand found a shrunken mouse head in a bag of frozen green beans, so just be careful with frozen or canned green beans (all vegetables really.)   Fresh produce that is in-season for late fall like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach and zucchini is more affordable and rodent-head free.  Scoop them up at your local farmer’s market, which you can find using the Eat Well Guide database.

Feel the need for a little pre-Thanksgiving communing as you prep in the kitchen? Last-minute tip:  Speaking of the Eat Well Guide, they are partnering up with the publishers of Consumer Reports, the Consumers Union, for a Thanksgiving Local Food Challenge.  To participate, you submit a Thanksgiving recipe with local ingredients and they will post it alongside other recipes on their site.  While there aren’t any winners, per se, new ideas for local holiday delicacies mean we are all winners.

Story by Margaret Teich. This article originally appeared in Plenty in November 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008