How to Create a Sustainable Thanksgiving Feast
By: Amy Arani
Eating is a revolutionary act. We do it multiple times a day—truly putting our money where our mouths are. When more of us eat seasonally and shop at farmers’ markets, good old supply and demand will eventually bring about a more environmentally-friendly food system.
Shop at a farmers’ market rather than your big-box grocer, and you’ll be a part of the sustainability trend, which luckily for the planet and us, is rapidly becoming a lifestyle.
Because when we feed ourselves and our families with what’s in season, we’re more in tune with what our ancestors ate. We’re also saying no to excess waste. The EPA found that 45 % of landfill in the U.S. is from food and packaging containers, and Worldwatch estimates that the average item on your plate traveled about 1500-2500 miles to get there. There’s no denying it: Shipping food across the country and world creates excess emissions and trash.
As if that weren’t bad enough, to preserve food over long distances, companies use techniques like gas ripening and radiation. Delicious! The effects of these practices on our health are questionable at best.
Now for the good news: According to Claire Georgiou, B.HSc ND, seasonal fare is cheaper, has a higher nutritional value, and supports your body’s needs.
We’ve all been there. Lured by the bright colors and bounty of the farmers’ market, we flit around, buying way more food than we’ll actually eat. All the sights and smells create high aspirations. We choose items that we don’t have the time or skill to make into a nourishing meal, and a week later, we find it rotting in the crisper. Or maybe that’s just me.
To get the most out of your farmers’ market, you need to arrive with a plan. First of all, answer the following questions. What kind of chef are you? Will your professional and personal commitments get in the way of your intentions?
Once you’ve identified what’s reasonable to expect of yourself in the kitchen, it’s time to make a list of the locally-grown items you’ll find at your farmers’ market. At first, pick one or two from the list that you’d typically buy at the grocery store.
Start small and feel free to scale if you’d like. When changing habits, it’s important to introduce elements slowly—kind of like an IV. Planning for the week ahead with crock-pot creations, mason jar salads, and other simple meals works best for me. You’ll find your rhythm—just remember to keep it easy. Bit by bit, these changes will become second nature.
BUHO has compiled a seasonal farmers' market guide to help you get started. Scroll down to find the season you’re in and get ready to discover how to shop, cook, and eat seasonally in a way that fits into your busy life. Happy shopping!
Ah, spring! The time when much of the world is finally becoming new again. As we shed the winter’s cold, and our holiday excesses, we turn from hardy, warm meals to lighter fare. It’s a naturally supported period for cleansing both body and home. Powerful greens are coming into season, and according to Chinese medicine, spring is the ideal time to cleanse the liver.
When shopping your farmers’ market or local grocer, look for items that will play well together. Some easy meals to consider throwing into your springtime rotation are green smoothies, chard and collard greens with bacon, spinach strawberry salad, or any of these cabbage-based meals by Mark Bittman. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, experiment with turnips!
Apples | Apricots | Avocados | Bananas | Kiwi | Lemons | Limes | Pineapples | Strawberries
Asparagus | Broccoli |Cabbage | Carrots | Celery | Collard Greens | Garlic | Kale | Lettuce | Mushrooms Onions | Peas | Radishes | Rhubarb | Spinach | Swiss Chard | Turnips
Summer brings us warmer weather and so many flavors. It’s when most fruit comes into season, and we naturally want to eat light. When I lived in California, the summer farmers’ market was always my favorite. There’s nothing quite like biting into the first organic peach of the season.
Some ideas for your foray into local summer meal planning are grilled peach salad (be sure to add avocado for some extra yum and healthy fats), gazpacho, berries and watermelon salad, cold zucchini soup, and cucumber salad.
Apples | Apricots | Avocados | Bananas | Blackberries | Blueberries | Cantaloupe | Cherries | Honeydew Melon | Lemons | Limes | Mangos | Peaches | Plums | Raspberries | Strawberries | Tomatoes | Tomatillos Watermelon
Arugula | Beets | Bell Peppers | Carrots | Celery | Corn | Cucumbers | Eggplant | Garlic | Green Beans | Lima Beans | Okra | Summer Squash | Zucchini
Autumn. The leaves change, the weather cools, school starts and the days become noticeably shorter. This is a time to turn inward, just like nature, and nourish your body with hardier things like root vegetables and cauliflower. Play with broccoli soup, grilled Brussels sprouts, green beans with almonds, squash, and all things kale.
Apples | Bananas | Cranberries | Grapes | Kiwifruit | Lemons | Limes | Mangos | Pears | Peas | Pineapples Raspberries
Beets | Bell Peppers | Broccoli | Brussels Sprouts | Cabbage | Carrots | Cauliflower | Celery | Collard Greens Garlic | Ginger | Green Beans | Kale | Lettuce | Mushrooms | Onions | Parsnips | Potatoes | Pumpkin Radishes | Rutabagas | Spinach | Sweet Potatoes | Swiss Chard | Turnips | Winter Squash | Yams
Winter is the time to slow down. The sun is at its lowest point in the sky and darkness reigns. Favor slow-cooked meals full of fat, use dark foods like black beans and kale, and give yourself the time to go within. Some ideas for your winter menu are nourishing bone broth soup, roasted butternut squash and turnips, vegan potato leek soup, and this roasted apple, yam, and kale creation.
Apples | Avocados | Bananas | Grapefruit Kiwi | Limes | Oranges | Pears | Pineapples
Beets | Brussels Sprouts | Cabbage | Carrots | Celery | Collard Greens | Kale | Leeks | Lemons | Onions Parsnips | Potatoes | Pumpkin | Rutabagas | Sweet Potatoes | Swiss Chard | Turnips Winter Squash | Yams
Well, there you have it, eco-fashionista! To eat seasonally takes practice, so get to know the growing season in your hometown. Rediscover the joy of a fresh, locally grown, lovingly cooked meal, and return to your human roots. Your health and the planet will thank you.