7 Tips for a More Sustainable Thanksgiving Dinner

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These tips can help you prepare a delicious and sustainable Thanksgiving dinner that’s better for you and the planet!

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the bounty that the year has brought our way, but in doing so, it is important to remember to show our appreciation for the wonderful planet that has provided that bounty! No matter what type of diet we follow, all the food we consume was, in some way, shape, or form, provided to us by the earth. When planning our Thanksgiving dinner, making sustainable choices can help us show our appreciation for the wonderful plants and animals that provide us with nutrition and sustenance – not just on this special day, but every day of our lives.

You can start by making a resolution to shop local for as many of your Thanksgiving dinner ingredients as possible. If you’re not sure what’s in season in your area, do a bit of research or visit a local farmer’s market. Many popular Thanksgiving items such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and apples are available locally at this time of year in many areas of the U.S… You may even be able to visit a “pick-your-own” farm for some items or buy in bulk to save money.

Here are a few tips for a healthier and more sustainable Thanksgiving dinner, according to EWG’s Guide to a Healthy Thanksgiving:

1.) Roughly a third of the meat on every turkey goes straight into the garbage. If you tend not to finish your leftovers, buy a smaller bird this year. Try an organic, local or heritage turkey, or one raised without antibiotics. Or embrace a seasonal centerpiece of stuffed winter squash.

2.) Cranberry sauce is delicious, but most store-bought varieties are more than 30 percent sugar. Make your sauce from scratch for great flavor and a nutritional boost. Use less than two-thirds of a cup of sugar per 12 ounces of cranberries, and opt for organic cranberries if you can. Conventional berries are heavily treated with pesticides and take a heavy toll on the environment.

3.) Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving tradition, with good reason. Pumpkin is packed with nutrition, widely available and generally low in pesticides. Pumpkin pie is also easy to make ahead of time, so you can cut down the stress on Thanksgiving day!

4.) White potatoes make EWG’s Dirty DozenTM list because of high pesticide loads. Try opting for organic to reduce your exposure to potentially hazardous pesticide residues – or grow your own. Potatoes are generally easy to grow in most climates and soil types – in fact, you can even grow them in straw or hay bales!

5.) Store-bought gravy can contain heart-damaging trans fats and too much sodium… Use scraps of skin, turkey bones, and clean vegetable peelings to make a flavorful stock that can be used to make your own gravy and reduce waste at the same time. Homemade gravy is a delicious way to get the most out of your turkey, and it’s great the next day as well.

6.) Stuff your stuffing with low-pesticide produce. Organic apples, celery, pears and carrots perk up stuffing and add nutritional punch. Walnuts and pecans work nicely in place of sausage.

7.) Green beans are a Thanksgiving staple, but canned options can be high in bisphenol A, a toxic chemical in the epoxy that lines most metal food cans. Go for fresh or frozen organic green beans or other nutritious veggies like peas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts…

 

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