Eating Up Sustainability

Written by Grace Houser, ESLLC 2016-2017

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I know everyone’s feelings anticipating winter break are incredibly varied. As far as I’m concerned, I can’t wait to go home for break. Not only is it a relaxing time to reconnect with family and friends, but it is arguably the best time of year what with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many other holidays.

I have always been a huge fan of Thanksgiving. We have our family traditions like cooking the big dinner, stressing my mom out with too many bodies in the kitchen, going to a movie, and enjoying time together. But the common trend on the fourth Thursday of November is food. As Americans, we already tend to overeat, but Thanksgiving is extreme. The word itself conjures warm thoughts of sweet potatoes, rolls, stuffing (my favorite), turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, maybe even green beans, and most definitely pie. Knowing that our diet is important to sustainability, I’m thinking that there must be some ways to make this one day in particular more friendly to the planet.

First and foremost, and the same as any other day, eat organic. This helps tenfold to limit pollution of water, air, CO2, and supports organic farmers. Also, depending on your geographic position, you can look into buying locally-grown foods to add color to your table. Rather than heading to Costco or other chain grocers, visit stands or even markets to get to know farmers.

An estimated 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day. You probably already know that livestock is a huge, HUGE contributor to greenhouse gases (and they use a ton of water). Not only that, but animals are hosted in cramped, filthy living conditions. Although, the best thing you could do would be to take this day to join happy vegetarians across the nation, you could also stick to your meat eating, but look for free range, happy, healthy, and organic animals on the shelves.

Next up is food waste. Almost everyone on Thanksgiving overeats and feels miserably stuffed afterwards, so first things first, work on smaller portions this year so you can try a little bit of everything. And rather than having that third helping of mashed potatoes, do what you can with eating leftovers for days and when they go bad, throw those scraps in the compost, whether you have one nearby in your town, or feel crafty enough to make your own, they help reduce that food waste guilt.

With your beautiful new compost bin and soil, you can grow your own herbs and vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner. Not only could this be a fun, new hobby, but you’d have major sustainability cred with your extended family that comes over for dinner.

Whatever ways you choose to have a sustainable Thanksgiving dinner, try to adjust a little bit since this is such a food and planet extensive holiday. And above all else, happy holidays and enjoy your time with your family and friends!

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