Every year American families sit down on the fourth Thursday of November and gorge themselves on anything and everything, including parades and football. It symbolizes the start of overeating, over-consuming, and general wastefulness for the next month. This is also called the holiday season with Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza and New Years all within a month. Really, this crazy time of the year is all about how much a person can consume, so of course this relates back to sustainability. In 2010 it is estimated that 46 million turkeys were consumed on Thanksgiving and 22 million on Christmas; that is a lot of resources (grain and water) to raise that many turkeys. On top of that the rising obesity levels compared to the amount of U.S. citizens that are food insecure are staggering numbers. Can’t we share the food a little more? I thought that was the meaning of Thanksgiving. It seems that it has instead turned into how much can one person eat in a day.
So how can we make our Thanksgivings a little more sustainable?
- Eat organic. Eat local. Eat in season. Besides having your vegetables and fruits being organic, try to find an organic turkey. Organic turkeys are not raised with antibiotics, growth hormones and must be given organic feed. Meaning, healthier for the bird and healthier for you.
- Meet a farmer. Buy one of their turkeys or some of their vegetables and fruits. Heritage and free range turkeys are much better for the environment and your taste buds than a conventional turkey.
- Skip the turkey. Sadly this will make your entire meal more sustainable. Producing meat requires many resources: grain, water, land, etc. When almost 75 million turkeys are being bought within a month, that adds up into an insane amount of resources. In my opinion, the side dishes are the best anyway, too often the turkey is dry and tasteless. Which is because the turkeys we are mass producing don’t actually taste that great, but they have a lot of white breast meat- the favorite kind to eat.
- Adopt-a-Turkey. Save a turkey from industrial farming and the inhumane treatment they receive.
- End hunger year round. Don’t forget to donate to your local food bank year round and not just when you are stuffing yourself with turkey.
- Save your scraps. For leftovers, re-use turkey scraps for other meals, or compost your food. Composting is great, especially if you have your own garden. Don’t waste your food.
- Grow your own. Knowing what foods you normally eat at Thanksgiving and year round, you can plan your garden to meet your needs and wants.
- Choose a sustainable turkey. If you have never had a heritage turkey, try to find one. They are delicious, especially when they are fried. If heritage turkeys are not available in your area, try to at least find out where your turkey is from in order to find a turkey closer in distance to you.
- Drink local beer and wine. Transporting glass bottles is very expensive since they are so heavy. Also, generally your local brew will taste much better too.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and hopefully a sustainable one too.