"We literally switched the switch off," said McCollum, 39, who keeps a hand in the operations from afar while working as the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development's agriculture liaison. "You took a family farm that raised many, many thousands of pigs, and this year we're going to raise maybe 150 pigs, about 200 sheep and a flock of about 700 laying hens."
They're selling those all-natural, grass-fed, antibiotic-free meats and eggs to upscale restaurants, at a premium.
The changes at his family farm fed a desire this year to "essentially buy everything at the farmers' market." He even gave up a weekend away in New York with his wife - they'd scheduled without realizing it was the last Sunday before Thanksgiving - so he could hit the market.
McCollum found nearly everything on his shopping list. A 16 1/2 -pound free-range turkey. Butternut squash. Brussels sprouts, potatoes and carrots. Herbs. Goat cheese and cheddar. Butter, cream and sour cream. Bread for stuffing. Buttermilk for biscuits. He lugged it around in reusable bags, waiting until the end to pick up the heavy bird and glass-bottled dairy.
He spent $141 - about 85 percent of his total Thanksgiving tab - on local food.
As someone in the locavore movement for the long haul, McCollum easily accepted that there were some foods he couldn't get at the farmers' market but wouldn't do without on Thanksgiving. "Outliers," he called them. Like that puff pastry, which he'll turn into little pinwheel appetizers filled with pesto. (The basil's local, though.)
"I'm not going to make puff pastry," he said. "That'd be crazy. So there's an outlier."
And yet, McCollum was already thinking about a way to source the dough locally come next Thanksgiving.
"Somebody around here," he said, "is bound to make croissants."