Thanksgiving is right around the corner. As part of your ritual of gratitude, add some green into your Thanksgiving festivities. Listed below are five earth friendly and health conscious tips that are easier on the Earth and your body.
5 Green Thanksgiving Tips
#1 Ditch the Cans
Majority of cans have a protective lining containing Bisphenol A (BPA.) It is a chemical that helps to harden the plastic and found in medical devices, dental sealants, canned foods and drinks and many other products.
According to WebMD, BPA could affect the body as follows:
- “Hormone levels. Some experts believe that BPA could theoretically act like a hormone in the body, disrupting normal hormone levels and development in fetuses, babies, and children. Animal studies have had mixed results.
- Brain and behavior problems. After a review of the evidence, the National Toxicology Program at the FDA expressed concern about BPA’s possible effects on the brain and behavior of infants and young children.
- Cancer. Some animal studies have shown a possible link between BPA exposure and a later increased risk of cancer.
- Heart problems. Two studies have found that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their bodies seem to have a higher incidence of heart problems. However, the higher incidence could be unrelated to BPA.
- Other conditions. Some experts have looked into a connection between BPA exposure and many conditions — obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and others. The evidence isn’t strong enough to show a link.
- Increased risk to children. Some studies suggest that possible effects from BPA could be most pronounced in infants and young children. Their bodies are still developing and they are less efficient at eliminating substances from their systems.”
Note, BPA’s cousin, the supposedly safer BPS isn’t much safer. Read why HERE.
So, how do you avoid the cans? Prepare ahead and use fresh ingredients like pumpkin. Making something from scratch can be very easy and so much better tasting.
Consider making your own pumpkin puree and homemade gravy. ( If a recipe calls for chicken broth, be sure to make your own chicken broth from chicken bones and old vegetable peels. I use my crock pot. )
What is my secret to preparing ahead? I tend to cook in batches for Thanksgiving. This technique lessens my anxiety and affords me time to skip the processed food.
Tips to cook ahead:
- Write down your entire menu for the day from appetizers to desserts.
- Make a grocery list of all the ingredients you need. Check it twice since I tend to miss an ingredient or two. (Or three.)
- Mark the recipes you can make in advance that you can store in the refrigerator safely or in the freezer.
- Cook one or two dishes each day.
Usually, I only have to make the turkey the day of Thanksgiving. I make the dips and vegetables in advance.
#2 Reduce Your Food Waste
I am the queen of reinventing ways to reuse your food.
- Freeze leftovers in packages for everyday use or future lunches. I love reheating food. It seems to taste better since the ingredients had time to meld.
- Reuse leftover turkey for future meals. Read HERE for some recipes.
- Freeze leftover vegetable peels including garlic and onion and store in your freezer to make your broth. Read HERE and HERE on how make your chicken or vegetable broth.
- While you are at it, don’t ditch that turkey carcass. I LOVE turkey broth soup. Learn how to make it HERE.
#3 Reduce Your Paper Use
When you have a large crowd, you may not have plate service for everyone. My mother, aunt and grandmother had the same dish pattern so they could combine their dishes for family gatherings. How brilliant!
In the past, I have washed them off, torn them in half and put them in my yard compost. By next year, no more paper plates.
Word of Caution!
Before buying compostable plates, read the labels. Some brands say they are compostable but, in fact,are only compostable in a commercial facility. Unfortunately, you cannot compost them in your backyard composter. To find a commercial composting facility near you, see HERE. (These facilities aren’t that common.)
In the event, none of the above ideas work for you, consider borrowing plates and silverware from some of your guests. Oh, and don’t forget to ditch the pretty paper napkins. Use cloth napkins instead. (You can learn how to make them HERE.)
#4 Eat Organic
Be sure to buy an organic turkey for Thanksgiving. Most turkeys are fed genetically modified food and shot with antibiotics. Doesn’t this turkey sound yummy?
And just because the turkey label may say it is “natural,” remember so is formaldehyde.
Let’s not forget the side dishes…
Farmers can spray Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, and many vegetables with pesticides. (Just from my first-hand experience, the cabbage looper can destroy Brussels sprout plants, the squash vine borers can decimate a pumpkin patch, and numerous other pests find most vegetables delectable.)
Pesticides are harmful to our bodies. According to the National Resource Defense Council,
“Epidemiological and laboratory studies contribute to a growing body of evidence linking pesticide exposure to adverse health effects including cancer, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological and developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and disruption of the endocrine system.”
If you can’t afford to buy organic produce, consider purchasing either organic frozen (if cheaper) or organic fruits and vegetables that are on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen plus list.
#5 Ditch the Plastic
Avoid bottled water, bottled soda, and other assorted plastics. Some plastics can leach chemicals into your food or water. Instead use:
- tap water (or filtered tap water depending on your area)
- make fermented soda
- buy food products stored in glass if making homemade isn’t an option
- buy eggs in a cardboard crate rather than plastic.
If you do use plastics, be sure to recycle. Don’t forget. We can recycle plastic storage bags. Learn more about plastic storage bag recycling HERE.
Best yet, at the dinner table, give thanks to our wonderful, beautiful Earth and those that we love.
Wishing you a happy and joyous Thanksgiving.
Join the Conversation:
How do you practice a green Thanksgiving?
Photo by Satya Murthy