Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, squash, and pumpkin pie. These are just some of the more traditional foods served Thanksgiving Day. But have you ever wondered how many miles these foods have traveled to get to your plate? Were they grown with herbicides or hormones? This year challenge yourself to turn your Thanksgiving feast into a green one!
Organic, locally-grown, and GMO free are some of the buzzwords used to describe healthier food choices. Eating food in any of these three categories is better for our bodies, good for the planet, and great for the local economy.
Since Thanksgiving is a food focused holiday for many families, it is also a good time to celebrate our thankfulness for our bodies and planet. Why not take that thankfulness a step further and plan a meal filled with food that has been produced with less impact on the earth. Try some or all of these meal tips to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving.
Try an Organic or Heritage Turkey from a Local Farm
A meat free Thanksgiving is ultimately the lowest impact on the environment. Vegetarian choices might include a casserole, stuffed squash, or even turkey tasting tofu. If you have a family of omnivores, then purchase an organic, naturally-raised turkey. It is preferable to find a local farm that raises small flocks of organic turkeys that are truly ‘free-range’ and allowed to graze.
Another option is to choose a heritage breed which are the ancestors to the broad-breasted turkeys most grocery stores presently sell. Heritage breeds are more flavorful than the mass produced turkeys of today. More information about heritage breeds can be found at LocalHarvest.org.
If you use the basting juices from your organic turkey – then you should have a great base for organic gravy! If you have vegetarian guests try one of the organic vegan gravy mixes that are available.
Make Green Choices with Your Vegetables
Organic Mashed Potatoes:
If you family was part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program this summer, then perhaps you have some potatoes in storage ready to use. According to www. foodnews.org potatoes are one of the top twelve fruits or vegetables most exposed to pesticides and are best purchased in the organic section of the supermarket. If you are lucky, you might also find some heritage or heirloom varieties of potatoes at the local farmers market!
Green Bean Casserole:
Organic frozen or canned green beans are fairly easy to find at your local health food markets and even larger grocery stores these days. You may even have some that you have prepared from your garden this past summer! There are also several brands of organic cream of mushroom soup on the market. Even if you are not used to paying a dollar or more extra for organic brands, think of this as an extra special meal that deserves a few extra dollars.
Serve up Some Squash:
In many urban areas local farmers markets are still up and running and a great place to find your locally grown acorn or butternut squash! If it has been grown organically – then that is a bonus!
Don’t Forget the Bakery Items!
Breads, Rolls, and Stuffing:
Need an excuse to visit the local bakery? Now’s the time to get some delicious whole wheat rolls and bread for stuffing, plus you get to support a local business. If you add eggs to your stuffing, purchase them from your local farmer or farmers market.
Truly Homemade Pie:
Have you ever truly made a homemade pumpkin pie? Not one with pumpkin from a can, but with a pumpkin from the field! This might be your year to gather some locally grown pumpkins and turn them into your favorite dessert. If that sounds too difficult, go for the apples still found at the farmer’s market or apple orchard outlets and craft yourself a locally grown apple pie.
The Thanksgiving Drinks
With a big fancy dinner we also need drinks. Organic and biodynamic wines are becoming more popular. Many of these wines are made without organic yeast and have no sulfites added. The Organic Wine Company offers a wide range of organic wines from all over the world. For the young folks at the table, offer organic, soy or nut based milk to wash down the meal!
Other Green Thanksgiving Feast Tips
- Traditionally many people overcook during the Thanksgiving holiday and end up with leftovers they toss out by the end of the week. This year try to estimate your needs more realistically and cook smaller quantities of food.
- Use real silverware and dishes and forget the disposables. Even cloth napkins are a great addition and nice tradition for this special occasion. Doing the dishes as a family is part of the fun of a family get together.
- And at the end of the meal, don’t forget to compost your scraps! With the exception of the turkey bones, most of the scrapings of the plates can head to the compost pile were they will breakdown into a soil amendment for your gardens.
These simple meal tips might cost you a bit more for your green Thanksgiving meal, but you will actually be thanking the planet by preparing a meal that has had less impact on its natural resources! If you need more information on where to find CSAs, local farms, and farm markets then visit LocalHarvest.org.