A Thanksgiving feast that originates from within 100 miles of you is not only good for the environment, but it gives you and your family the opportunity to enjoy a local meal that’s as delicious as it is healthful.
While a few of the suggestions may seem a bit redundant and applicable to situations outside of Thanksgiving, I think a little redundancy around this time of year can go a long way, especially as many of us get caught up in the excitement and fast-paced nature of the holiday season.
Instead of using imported flowers or plants for your table centerpieces, bring the outdoors in by using twigs, bright orange and red leaves, berries, pine cones, and branches found in your own yard to create a visually stunning, seasonal, and of course eco-friendly centerpiece. Use items found in your yard to create interesting, eco-friendly centerpieces reminding us that seasonal changes are critical to the environment and global warming is dangerously close to preventing natural changes to occur.
Try to cut back on ingredients you cannot find locally as much as possible, including coffee, salt, and other spices. You may even substitute traditional Thanksgiving dishes for those that can be made entirely from ingredients found locally. If you live in a warmer climate, take advantage of the local farmers’ and produce markets in your area. Google http://www.localharvest.org/ to find your closest market. This can lead you to a local food co-op, which helps not only the organic farmers, but greatly decreases your carbon footprint.
If you have family members who are traveling, encourage them to coordinate and carpool with other nearby relatives. Try mass transit as an option. I stopped driving into NYC and now take the train. No more tolls, gasoline bills and parking costs for me.
After the meal it pretty traditional that everyone chips in to clean. Believe it or not, sometimes washing dishes by hand uses more water than the dishwasher. If you have stacks of plates to tackle, load up the dishwasher and use your own detergent (recipes can be found at http://www.giveagreenbag.com)
There are other things to do to make Thanksgiving more meaningful than a huge meal followed by snoozing on the couch waiting for football games on TV (High Def of course). After the game and a rest, head back to the kitchen and eat a mini-version of the main course. Did you know The average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone. Surprisingly, most of these calories come from the all-day snacking in front of the TV while watching parades and sporting events. Did you know it takes 1 mile of walking to burn 100 calories? Do the math!
Start a family tradition. Get a scrap book or journal (www.giveagreenbag.com carries TREE-FREE journals) and ask each guest and family member to bring a leaf from their yard. Glue the leaf on a page and have each person write what they are most grateful for that year. Bring it out each year.
Surprise your guests with some background information about Thanksgiving and Native Americans. Many Native Americans still fry bread in goose or bear grease. Smoked salmon, succotash, squash casseroles are often served. Having spent time with the Intuits in Tuktoyuktook (as seen on Ice Road Truckers) I had the opportunity to see a typical menu.
There is no place to plant due to permafrost so all meals consist of some form of caribou and dough fried in caribou fat. Being a vegetarian, I lived on rice and canned peas. Native Americans used a motto “All My Relations” meaning that all life is sacred and related. A simple motto with a lot of meaning.