Festive Holiday Meals

Green Living Idea:  Festive  Holiday Meals
By Jen Fontaine

Still in the holiday spirit, this week’s Green Living thoughts relate to those great festive meals we’re all looking forward to for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and New Year’s Day.  There are a number of ways we can all keep the planet’s health in mind as we enjoy festive fare. Many of these will look familiar—but it’s nice to have reminders.

Since the holidays are about holding on to, or re-creating, traditional ways. it’s nice to turn to some organizations that promote the wisdom of these ways. Heritage Foods U.S.A. seems to fit the bill, as they promote foods raised by traditional means.  Farms that raise animals sustainably and humanely, using traditional methods, need to sell their meat and other products through special ‘buyer’s clubs’ or other outlets, since their animals grow in natural ways, and they take longer than animals grown in industrial contexts that use questionable practices to maximize profits.  One farm offering a buyer’s club locally can be found at http://www.burnsheritagefarm.com.  The national Heritage Foods site is listed below. In any case, choose an organic turkey, and look for sources with the most humane, sustainable practices.

Of course, there are many ‘green’ meal ideas we all can use–things that fit easily into our normal shopping and cooking routines. For a start, even if you don’t have a garden of your own, try to choose locally grown produce: there’s quite a selection still available: apples, pears, winter squash, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, broccoli, cauliflower, and late-season greens. Shop at winter farmer’s markets or stores that specialize in local produce; many farm-based stores are open until late December. Or look for labels telling where any product is from, and whether it is organic. If you’re unsure about making a local product into something interesting, just search online for recipes that include that ingredient. I’ve not included specific food recommendations here, but the last source below offers some interesting recipes for healthy holiday meals.

Use everything you cook: Americans apparently waste about a quarter of the food prepared for Thanksgiving dinners. There are many steps we can all take to help reduce that figure. Freeze leftovers in convenient amounts, or give them to your guests in glass containers (rather than plastic or aluminum foil) to take home. Even (organic) vegetable peelings, and leftover meat and bones, can be simmered into a delicious soup, for those light meals we all crave after a holiday feast. Just compost or recycle anything that’s appropriate and that you can’t use. 

If you’ve bought too many cans of milk or other ingredients for your holiday recipes, consider donating the extras to a local food bank (that’s easy at UUCNH, as there’s a regular cupboard set aside for donations to the North Hills Community Outreach food bank).  Buy ingredients (especially dried beans, fruit, etc.) in bulk when possible to reduce packaging.  Purchases made this week for Thanksgiving could produce welcome ‘extras’ for Christmas. Consider serving on durable dishes as well, instead of using disposables.

Finally, if you’re having a crowd in for the holiday, you can save on your budget as well as helping the environment by keeping your thermostat turned lower than usual; the heat generated by cooking and the guests may contribute a lot to making the house cozy and warm.

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Please keep in touch; send tips, stories, requests or comments to jennfontaine@gmail.com

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