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‘Tis the Season for Sustainability: An Eco-Friendly Holiday Dinner

written by: JenniferB•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/28/2011

With Thanksgiving and Christmas soon upon us, it’s time to start planning the holiday menus. And with sustainability on all of our minds this holiday season, it’s important to know where you can find the best eco-friendly food.

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    The Main Course

    For the main course, a free-range turkey will truly transform your meal. Known for having a far better flavor, a turkey that’s been given room to roam, fed organic meals and given no antibiotics or growth hormones makes for a happy, holiday turkey, indeed. Although they come at a higher cost than a conventional frozen turkey from the grocery store, the environmental and health benefits far outweigh the modest increased cost.

    Many may want to opt for the traditional holiday ham – which has roots dating back to long before Christianity even began. However, the hams that you find at the grocery store likely raised in horrendous, inhumane conditions and flavor enhanced. Thankfully, there are places where you can buy a ham that’s been raised in an eco-friendly way. Read more here.

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    Sustainable Side Dishes

    Cranberries are a mainstay of any sustainable holiday spread. Grown in natural wetlands and man-made bogs, cranberries are often sprayed with harmful pesticides in order to ward off insects and increase yields. A great alternative is to purchase organic cranberries from certified organic growers. Again, while the cost is a bit beyond what you’d pay for a conventional bag of cranberries, the benefit of supporting small organic growers is well worth it.

    Every holiday meal must also include the dressing, or stuffing as it is more commonly called. Sustainable stuffing isn’t hard to find! If you prefer instant varieties, Fresh Harvest offers an easy organic option. Otherwise, if you prefer a homemade batch, check out your local bakery for some day-old organic bread – or you can even bake your own!

    Also, it’s not too late to check out the local farmers’ market for holiday produce including corn, squash, potatoes and berries. Freeze what won’t last until the holiday and take it out to prepare your local side dishes. Even if they aren’t completely organic, buying local is just as ecologically important.

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    For Dessert

    An organic pie is a great way to go and shouldn’t be hard to whip up with the right organic ingredients. There are usually a wide variety of frozen organic berries at larger supermarkets. An organic piecrust may be tricky to find, but here is a terrific recipe that describes some alternative ingredients that are organic and sustainable.

    There you go – a few tips on how to have a sustainable – and savory – holiday meal!