We all know that Thanksgiving came from humble beginnings: a true celebration of surrounding community and land’s bounty. Today, while we still surround ourselves with family, we often do not know the source of many of our tasty dishes. As a holiday that epitomized our connection to the earth, shouldn’t we ensure that our current Thanksgiving meals are sustainable as possible so that future generations can enjoy and reflect on that same tie to nature?
One way to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving is to consider the 100-mile Thanksgiving. As the name hints, all the ingredients for a 100-mile Thanksgiving dinner are sourced from anywhere within a 100-mile radius of your house. Traditionally, Thanksgiving food comes from all across the country, traveling in refrigerated trains and planes and wracking up lots and lots of food miles. While sourcing locally may sound challenging, it is important to remember that the staples of the Thanksgiving meal, such as sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and Brussels sprouts, are all fall harvest foods. Plus, nothing brings the family together like a little competition to find the “localist” ingredient possible. Who knows, maybe your sleuthing for a turkey will lead you to discovering a local farm that becomes your staple for everything from apples to berries to pumpkins all season long.
Of course, committing to a more sustainable Thanksgiving dinner does not mean you have to skip out on traditions, and it may even create an opportunity to create some new ones. Every little step you take towards being more consciousness of where your food comes from helps. Here are some quick tips to help make your Thanksgiving your greenest yet:
- Substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes – In terms of pesticide use, the Environmental Working Group lists white potatoes on their “Dirty Dozen” list, whereas sweet potatoes are listed on their “Clean Fifteen” list. Making this simple switch will be healthy for both Mother Nature and your family.
- All hail the local pumpkin pie – Pumpkins are packed with nutrients and are also an easy local find. Consider making a dairy free or vegan pumpkin pie to reduce your environmental footprint even further (unless, of course, you find some local milk!).
- Break out those dishes – Even though paper turkey plates are charming, reusable dishes are the way to go. Try collecting pine cones from your backyard to create a cute turkey centerpiece instead.
The simplest way to be more sustainable on Thanksgiving is to not waste food. When your buying food, make sure to only purchase what you need and to utilize all your leftovers.
Finally, be sure to hold your friends and family close and have a happy, healthy, and green Thanksgiving! (and check out the UVA Marching Band during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Go Hoos!)