Here at Seventh Generation, we're committed to making choices with the health of people and the environment in mind. This first post in our Conscious Consumer Revolution series offers simple strategies to plan a mindful Thanksgiving meal.
Sourcing healthy, local food for your Thanksgiving feast can be almost much fun as eating it. From choosing your turkey (or turkey alternative), to cooking with fresh-from-the-farm vegetables, to decorating your table, Seventh Generation wants to help you find delicious options that keep the health of your family and the environment in mind. In the first post in our Conscious Consumer Revolution blog series, we're showing you simple strategies to plan a mindful Thanksgiving meal.
- Buy your turkey from a local farm. A trip to the farm can be a fun outing, but it’s also a rich opportunity for kids (and parents!) to learn where their food comes from. Buying locally helps support your community, ensure humane conditions, and reduce the environmental impact of shipping the bird. Plus, local farms often sell pasture-raised or heritage turkeys, which are a traditional breed of turkeys that fly, live, and reproduce naturally (unlike conventional Thanksgiving birds). If you don’t live near a farm, you can find one on the Eat Well Guide.
- Or, skip the turkey altogether. Yes, turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece — but lots of families are reinventing Thanksgiving with delicious plant-based meals. Foregoing a turkey not only saves you a lot of prep work, but it can also be a fun way to stretch your kitchen creativity. Why not serve up hearty quinoa burgers and sweet potato fries, or swap the heavy meal for a finger-food feast? Here are some more of our favorites (perfect for your family potluck):
- Eat local and in season. Who knew there were so many different kinds of fall produce? Dumpling squash, beets, leeks, and parsnips are just a few of the underrated vegetables we’ve picked up lately. Visit a farmer’s market, explore the huge variety of colorful crops, and pick out a few new ones to try. If you’re not sure how to prepare them, chat up the vendors — they’re usually happy to offer suggestions. As a bonus, we’ve noticed that kids are much more willing to try new vegetables if they get to pick them out.
- Swap canned for fresh or frozen. Our friends at the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners found that food packaging is the #1 source of BPA exposure. Instead of making your pie with canned filling, try using fresh pumpkin this year (trust us, the flavor is worth it). For convenience, buy frozen vegetables and microwave them in a glass bowl instead of plastic. If you do use canned foods, reach for brands that say “BPA free” on the label.
- Ditch the disposables. We hesitate to get out the fine china and cloth napkins (what if they get ruined?), but there’s something special about serving your Thanksgiving meal on fancy dishes. Kids love eating off “grown up” plates and silverware, and it’s a great opportunity to teach table manners! Plus, it keeps plastic silverware and napkins from ending up in the trash. Of course, we realize there are times you just need a paper towel — like when you’re wiping up spills from the turkey. Our recycled paper towels are a practical way to help reduce your environmental impact.
- Get wine and beer from a local brewery. Did you know that many local wineries or breweries offer refillable bottles? It’s often less expensive than the grocery store, and makes a great conversation starter with friends and family who are curious about conscious consumerism! Since the bottles can be returned to the brewery, sterilized, and reused, it’s a greener solution than single-use packaging. Plus, you’ll bypass the BPA found in aluminum cans.
- Let your food do double duty as decor. Making your own decorations is a great way to cut down on the waste from petroleum-based decorations, disposables, and batteries — not to mention reclaim some storage space in your garage. Apples, cranberries, and tiny pumpkins make a beautiful, consumable tablescape. Or, create a fragrant fall herb bouquet and use it later to flavor your turkey.
- Freeze your leftovers. The average family throws out $2,200 worth of food every year — that could buy a lot of pumpkin pie. What to do with all those leftovers? Foods like turkey, gravy, squash, and stuffing freeze well, and are perfect to pull out for a last-minute weeknight meal. The flavor is best if you eat them within 2-3 months.