Turkey day is near! I love Thanksgiving, because it’s all about sharing food, family, community, and tradition, and autumn happens to be my fave time of the year in terms of what the season offers us. Plenty of greens, root veggies, apples, pears, cranberries. Delight.
What are your plans? No matter if you are hosting 5 or 20, here are some tips to green your thanksgiving celebration. Stay tuned as I post some great recipes in the next few days.
*Cleaning: make sure you are using non-toxic products to prep for the big day. Use coconut or plant-based dish soaps. I love Mrs Meyers. Make your own cleaning solutions.
*Decorating: use organic flowers or local foliage for centerpieces. Get creative with pine cones or big autumn leaves from your yard. Small gourds make nice additions, too. Use beeswax or soy-based candles with cloth wicks (not lead).
*Menu planning: So. Who’s coming over? If you have a predominantly non-traditional group, why not try serving a whole roast fish as a main course? Easy and elegant. I am not a fan of processed soy products, so for vegetarians, try individually stuffed acorn squashes with brown rice, cranberries, herbs, and plenty of side fixins. For traditionalists, why not order a Heritage Turkey? Heritage Turkeys have gained popularity due to the Slow Food movement and are native birds raised organically and sustainably. More info here. Research the origins of your bird carefully. Labels can be misleading. “Free range” may not necessarily be organic, and organic doesn’t necessarily mean the bird didn’t spend the majority of its life caged. Be a savvy consumer! Make sure the bird wasn’t plumped with salts and that it’s free of preservatives. The more local and organic you can get, the better.
*Shopping: hit the Farmers’ Market a couple days before Thanksgiving to get the best seasonal and local fruits, herbs, veggies, and grains. Choose organic and local whenever possible. This is the main way you contribute to supporting your local foodshed and cutting down on fossil fuels used for food transport. You’ll want to get the perishables and breads the day before. Bring your own bag. You can usually find organic and local flowers at the market for your centerpiece, too. If you can’t make it to the Farmers’ Market, stick to buying in bulk wherever possible, and avoid items with too much packaging. Also choose local wines as much as possible. We’re very lucky here in California, but did you know that Arizona, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, and Oregon have great wines, too?
*Prep: when you sit down to do meal planning, decide what you can pre-prep and what can be done day-of. Side dishes and rolls can usually be assembled in advanced and made day-of. Make desserts in advance where possible, too. Salads and meats are usually best day-of. Recruit some sous chefs and don’t stress out.
*Clean-up: compost and recycle what you can, and save leftovers! Use all parts of the bird: You can use the bones for stock. Send leftovers home with guests, freeze, or incorporate into new dishes. Or, if you live in a city like San Francisco, there’s always a few homeless folks that appreciate your leftovers if you have more than you can use.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.