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New York, NY – November 19, 2008 As millions of families across the country prepare for Thanksgiving and the holiday season this year, Slow Food USA encourages them to look no further than their regional backyards to discover the flavors and traditions of their communities.

One of Slow Food USA’s programs, the US Ark of Taste, is a catalog of more than two hundred regional foods and traditions that are in danger of extinction. Slow Food shares the histories of these foods on its website and encourages farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, retail grocers, educators and consumers to grow, prepare and celebrate the country’s diverse foods and food traditions in their communities. With twelve new foods recently “boarded” to the Ark of Taste, like New England Boiled Cider and Cider Jelly, Thanksgiving is the perfect time for people to learn about place-based foods and enjoy them at the holiday table with friends and family.

Home cooks can source many ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste through a partnership between Slow Food USA and LocalHarvest, a food website that helps small farmers connect with cooks and eaters across the country. “LocalHarvest is pleased to promote Ark products and producers,” says Erin Barnett, Director of LocalHarvest. “This partnership is generating a good deal of interest among our farmers—and increasingly among the public.”

Today, people are spending less money in restaurants and more time in their kitchens where thereis a growing awareness about eating local and sustainably produced food. It helps to keep smallfarmers on their land and dollars in the community. It means less greenhouse gas production andless fossil fuel use. But there is another reason to eat locally: it safeguards the diverse bounty ofcrops and breeds that are historically adapted to our lands. This biodiversity helps with resistanceto pests and diseases, and is intimately linked to the traditional agricultural, culinary and culturalknowledge passed down from generation to generation.

“Place based foods are perfect for the Thanksgiving table as they give a sense of history andhome,” says US Ark of Taste Committee Member, Elissa Ruben-Mahon. Look for regional applevarieties for your apple pies; if you live in New England, glaze your turkey with Boiled CiderJelly; make a pumpkin pie with Green-striped Cushaw if you live in Tennessee, Louisiana orMississippi; or use the flavorful Datil pepper to spice up your stuffing if you live in Florida.“Instead of going for the usual Thanksgiving fare, think about expanding your menu to honoryour local food community,” says Jenny Trotter, Director of Programs at Slow Food USA.

“Don’t feel limited by the foods on the Ark list. Get out and explore other unique foods in yourregion and experiment with old family recipes. Maybe you’ll discover another unique food orfood tradition that belongs on the Ark of Taste.”

Thanksgiving is a time to share a meal with friends and family and to honor the diverse bounty ofour land across the country. This year, support local farmers while celebrating and learning aboutcultural foods and food traditions by seeking out regional, place-based foods on the Ark of Taste.

Recently “boarded” to the US Ark of Taste: Fuerte avocado, Black Republican cherry, BlackSphinx Date, Hatcher Mango, Datil Pepper, Randall Cattle, Cayuga Duck, Reefnet SalmonFishing Method of the Northern Puget Sound, Piki Bread, Boiled Cider and Cider Jelly of NewEngland, White Kiawe Honey of Hawai’i, Gallberry Honey and Sourwood Honey.