Climate-friendly Holiday Meal Tips

Nov 21, 2011 | What's New

There are many variables that go into determining if a meal is climate-friendly. The lists of foods below will give you a general sense about which to increase (more climate-friendly choices), and which to decrease (foods with a high climate foodprint).

Here are some tips for a holiday meal that will keep your family healthy and your carbon footprint low.

  1. Eat less meat or choose organic
    Most grocery stores now offer free-range organic meat options. 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. Look for the USDA Organic label. This ensures that the meats were not produced with pesticides, irradiation, hormones, antibiotics, or bioengineering. Find local, free-range, or organic meats near you.
  2. Buy local, organic produce in season.
    Long-running studies show that organic farming is far more effective at removing greenhouse pollution from the atmosphere and fixing it as beneficial organic matter in the soil than current industrial farming practices. Eating organic local produce in season also reduces the number of “food miles” necessary to get food onto the table. Fewer miles means less greenhouse pollution. Consuming a 30-mile salad has a much lower carbon foodprint than a 3,000 mile salad. Use the Eat Well Guide to find local, organic, sustainably produced food.
  3. Reduce Packaging.
    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.
  4. Reduce Waste, Share Leftovers.
    Did you know that nearly half of all food in the United States is thrown away before it’s consumed. Per capita food waste has progressively increased by about 50% since 1974. It’s now estimated that 25% of all freshwater and 4% of all fossil fuel burned in this country are used to produce food that is never eaten. 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.
  5. Try some sustainable holiday recipes this year.
    This holiday season, consider replacing your traditional meat dish with creative alternatives. Here are some ideas from the New York Times.

For more on the connection between food and global warming, visit our Cool Harvest page.

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