Thanksgiving is next week. It is a wonderful day to step back and be mindful and appreciative of all the things you have. It is key to remember the IMPORTANT things like family, community, the Earth and just simply be thankful that you have food to eat. And if like most on Thanksgiving there will be lots of food, probably too much. I am listing a few ways to help you be more aware and have a more sustainable Turkey Day (even if it’s without turkey!). And hey, these things can apply all year round!
--Buy a Heritage Turkey:
Why? They taste better, are humanely raised, you help a farmer and the breed itself from extinction! If you can’t find one look on: http://www.localharvest.org/store/turkey.jsp. They can help you locate one in your area. There are plenty of online sources that will ship but keeping in the “local” spirit and all that it is good for, you can also ask around at your local farmer’s market. I know that the place I buy all my meat from, Riverview Farms www.grassfedcow.com, was offering them this year. However, you usually have to order them in advance. If you have missed the deadline…at least you know for next year and can plan accordingly OR there are other options. Buy a Certified Organic/Certified Naturally Grown, Pastured, or at least Free Range bird. These are all better options than the mega-mart, self-basting (what does that even mean?), super injected, industrialized birds. Support those dying breeds!!!
And brine it for a extra juicy bird: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html.
--Be Turkey Free:
I know this may seem crazy and out of the question but consider it, even if for a moment. The reason is the factory farming of livestock is usually inhumane to the animals as well as the workers and accounts for a ridiculous amount of the world’s greenhouse emissions. I get mostly excited about all the side dishes anyways that the poor turkey gets way over shadowed on my plate. And then of course there is dessert.
Go veggie, so many options and more than enough for a grand meal. For some ideas:
-Hit your PANTRY/GARDEN first. Odds are you may have quite a few of the ingredients you need for your dishes already. Or if nothing else you may be inspired by an already existing but -has been hiding in your pantry- item! I do it all the time!
-Go to your Farmer’s Market. They have the best, freshest, in season, LOCAL produce out there and usually good tips and recipes on how to cook their goods. Just ask.
-Buy ORGANIC. Your food dollars talk and the food is better for you. I know Thanksgiving is a big day and can be an expensive meal. If you can’t buy all organic check out: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/ for the list of MUST buy organic produce. Save a few bucks on the others.
--Use whole ingredients or buy from bulk bins, I know it is tempting to take short cuts but making food from scratch is certainly more healthful and much less wasteful from a packaging stand point.
Who says you have to do it all? I get it. I am a control freak and I like MY menu, and the way I make MY sweet potatoes but everyone has strengths and you should hone in on that to help take a little pressure off. Do what you can do and have other’s bring something. Aunt Mary is a good baker; have her bring dessert. Uncle Al is terrible in the kitchen, he can bring wine or beer (preferably LOCAL), see where I
am going here?
--Have a Waste-Free Meal:
--DISHES, I hate doing dishes and I have found myself in a career that they are always there and never ending. Thanksgiving is a day full of dishes but PLEASE don’t go disposable. The landfills have had their fill and whatever we can do to keep more going in the better. If you must do disposable choose eco-friendly, compostable or bio-degradable options such as: http://www.ecopalmware.com/?gclid=CO6p7caSz7MCFQU5nAodnSEAWw
--COMPOST: another way to keep more from going into the landfills (another source of global warming causing greenhouse emissions) and oh, so good for your garden!
--Plan for your LEFTOVERS: my mom always reminds me to bring containers to bring home my leftovers, encourage your guests to do the same or check out these ideas for reincarnating all that leftover food: http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/top-10-thanksgiving-leftover-recipes/index.html.
--Have fun and Enjoy the Moment:
Whether you are doing all the work, just showing up to eat, or kicking it alone try and truly take a moment to be THANKFUL.