This year, celebrate the holidays in a way that honors Creation, keeps your family healthy, and minimizes your carbon footprint. Interfaith Power & Light has compiled these ideas for creating a climate-friendly, healthy Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy!
EAT LESS MEAT
Consider replacing your traditional meat dish with creative, vegetarian alternatives. The New York Times recently published its annual roundup of tasty vegetarian fare for Thanksgiving. Also, find fabulous Tofurky recipes courtesy of Farm Sanctuary (Turkey rescue). See what a vegan holiday menu looks like, courtesy of Robin Robertson — one of America’s bestselling vegetarian cookbook authors. Yum!
CHOOSE ORGANIC AND HUMANELY RAISED
If you eat meat, look for free-range organic options at your grocery store using the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change. These are from animals that are fed grains or grasses that are organically grown and free of synthetic pesticides, and thus require less fossil fuel energy.
A USDA Organic label ensures that the meat was not produced with pesticides, irradiation, hormones, antibiotics, or bioengineering and a Certified Humane label ensures that the turkey was raised in humane conditions. Find a grocer near you that carries Certified Humane meat. You can also consider a heritage turkey, or choose from a variety of sustainable fish.
EAT LOCALLY GROWN
Fall is a great time to savor local produce such as apples, squash, cabbage, cranberries, and pecans. Visit your community farmers market and look for ways to showcase the bounty of the local harvest at your holiday table. Find fresh local options near you at www.localharvest.org and the Eat Well Guide. Eating local food in season also reduces the number of “food miles” necessary to get food onto the table, and fewer miles mean less greenhouse gas pollution.
Overly processed and packaged foods take a lot of energy to produce. Choose foods with eco-friendly packaging. Get in the habit of bringing your own reusable produce and shopping bags to the store. When done eating and cooking, recycle packaging as best you can.
For more on the connection between food, faith, and global warming, visit our Cool Harvest page. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
LEAVE FEWER LEFTOVERS
Did you know that nearly half of all food in the United States is thrown away before it is consumed? The way we produce, use, and waste food creates nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions. Per-capita food waste has grown by about 50 percent since 1974, and yet there are 50 million people in the United States who don’t have enough to eat on a regular basis. So this holiday season, get in the habit of buying only what you plan to eat. Make a plan for the leftovers! Organize a potluck with your congregation on Thanksgiving weekend, or deliver leftovers to a local soup kitchen. Learn how to waste less food.