After awhile, all that holiday eating starts to feel gluttonous and wasteful. But it doesn't have to be. Maybe you can't change the world all by yourself, but there are a few ways you can make your holiday food consumption a bit gentler on the planet.
First things first, eat local. If you eat meat and want to prepare the traditional turkey with all the trimmings, purchase an organic, fresh turkey from a local farmer. Your main course will be fresh, not frozen, and likely raised free-range and free of preservatives and antibiotics. Your contribution here is threefold: You're supporting local farmers; you're minimizing the carbon footprint of your main course; and, you're eating organic.
As for the trimmings, find out what's in season where you live and flesh out the rest of your meal using ingredients grown close to home. During the fall in much of the United States, that means root vegetables: white potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash and parsnips. And don't forget apples. Instead of tossing your leftovers, tap into your cookbooks for creative ways to eat that food for a few more days.
But the holiday season isn't just about eating -- it's also about drinking. Is there such a thing as an eco-friendly alcoholic beverage? Happily, the answer is "yes."
With a little research you can find a green wine, beer or liquor to suit your holiday meal. For example, the Cooper Mountain Vineyard uses excess grape skins and stems for compost. Then, after you finish the bottle, you can send the corks to TerraCycle, where they're recycled into corkboards. If you like beer, check out Sierra Nevada; the company uses converted oil from its restaurant to make biodiesel for its delivery trucks. Lastly, the TRU Straight Vodka brand plants a tree for every bottle sold. If alcohol isn't your thing, look for locally produced apple cider.
The vegan diet is beneficial for the planet because it relies less on processed foods, and it doesn't rely on the meat or dairy industries at all. You can certainly make a vegan holiday meal, but if you're not up for that challenge, here's another alternative: On your favorite holiday, be a vegan until suppertime (or what New York Times writer Mark Bittman calls "vegan until 6 p.m."). Make breakfast and lunch vegan affairs, but when 6 p.m. rolls around, have your traditional holiday meal, complete with your organic turkey and ham.
DID YOU KNOW? Organic red wines contain more antioxidants than traditional wine. So, you body and your Earth thank you for drinking them.
- Hattam, Jennifer. "Buy Green: Thanksgiving Turkey." PlanetGreen.com. Nov. 10, 2008. (Nov. 20, 2010) http://planetgreen.discovery.com/buying-guides/buy-green-thanksgiving-turkey.html
- Parker-Pope, Tara. "Vegan Before Dinnertime." The New York Times. Feb. 27, 2009. (Nov. 20, 2010) http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/vegan-before-dinnertime/
- Ryan, Catherine. "Cool Cocktails." Self. 2010. (Nov. 20, 2010) http://www.self.com/fooddiet/2009/11/eco-friendly-cocktails