Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate, enjoy and share the goodness of life. Making the celebration "greener" can expand that gratitude by benefitting eaters and the environment alike. There are many easy and affordable ways to do this.
To learn where to buy locally produced foods, pick up a copy
of THRIVE's "Rogue Flavor Guide." They're available at stores
throughout the Rogue Valley, or you can download a .pdf version
Choosing local, sustainably produced ingredients is a great way to shrink the environmental footprint of our feast, savor more flavorful, nutritious dishes, thank hard-working farmers and honor the holiday's origins.
Local farms, farmers markets and retailers sell a cornucopia of seasonal favorites, including carrots, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, greens, leeks, peas, root vegetables, winter squash and pumpkins, as well as eggs, milk, cheese and butter.
Talent's Rogue Valley Brambles, for instance, offers grass-fed, chemical-free turkeys and heritage turkeys (www.roguevalleybrambles.com; 541-210-2278). Several grocers also offer free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free turkeys, including heritage breeds, as well as chickens and other meats.
Vegetarians can get protein-rich legumes from Bluebird Farm and Dunbar Farms, and the Ashland Co-op carries foods from other Oregon growers.
For pie, Hanley Farm's Horsepower Flour and Ashland-grown Full Circle Wheat make a terrific crust to complement local pumpkin and apple fillings. Rogue Valley wine, beer, coffee and tea can top off the meal perfectly.
Look for organic items to avoid the negative health and environmental impacts associated with synthetic agricultural chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and additives. Small, regional producers may not be certified organic, but you can always ask about their practices. To cut packaging waste and costs, buy bulk foods and produce in reusable containers and bags.
For those purchasing prepared foods or dining out, look for venues with local and organic offerings, as well as ones that use green practices. This is a terrific way to enjoy a great meal while thanking businesses that are doing their part to help the Earth and our local economy.
If you're a guest at a Thanksgiving dinner and need a gift, consider regional wine or beer, seasonal flowers or plants, spring bulbs or produce from your garden.
All that cooking can be resource-intensive. Doubling up dishes in the oven, such as roasting vegetables while cooking a turkey, saves energy and time. Mary Shaw, Ashland Food Co-op's culinary educator, suggests using a pressure cooker for efficiency. Mashed potatoes and squash take just a few minutes, she notes.
Compost your kitchen trimmings to nourish your garden and keep materials out of landfills.
If you're anticipating more leftovers than you can eat, ask guests to bring reusable containers and share the extras. Plan ahead to reduce waste by making a shopping list based on your menu and buying and preparing only what you'll consume.
Use reusable tableware and napkins for a nicer presentation that's lower cost and waste-free. According to an online quiz at www.planetgreen.discovery.com, if everyone in the United State used reusable napkins on Thanksgiving, we'd save 1 million trees.
For festive, eco-friendly decorations, try small squash and pumpkins, leaves, flowering plants, seasonal fruits, such as apples, pears and grapes, and reused or recycled paper.
Here's to a delicious Thanksgiving that nourishes people and planet. Dig in!