5 Ideas for a Greener Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is not usually thought of as a green affair, but there are simple choices you can make to have an eco-friendly holiday. By buying local and staying frugal, you can minimize your impact on the earth this Thanksgiving. Even more importantly, maybe you’ll inspire some friends or family members to go green next year.

Order a naturally raised turkey

Cook up a naturally raised turkey this year, preferably one that is local to your area. Heritage breed turkeys are an especially earth friendly option, if that’s available to you. By buying a turkey from a farmer you trust, you cut down on transportation other factory farming practices that harm the earth. Most high quality, local turkeys need to be ordered ahead of time. You may be able to order a turkey through a local farm, the farmers market, or a health food store.

Hit up the farmers market for local produce

If there are any farmers markets still open in your area, shop at them for local produce and goods for your Thanksgiving table. Even in some areas where farmers markets close before November, a special market day may be held. Depending on where you live in the country, you may be able to get apples, pears, mushrooms, green beans, onions, pumpkins, and squash right from your local area. If you can’t find a farmers market, try a farm stand or health food co-op dedicated to selling local fruits and vegetables.

Cook low and slow

Make side dishes or even a small turkey in your slow cooker to save energy. Stuffing goes great in the slow cooker, as do sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Also consider using a slow cooker for keeping food warm on Thanksgiving day. A slow cooker uses a lot less energy than an oven, even an oven on low.

Plan your oven schedule

The oven is a huge energy hog, and you can minimize its impact by baking things together. See what needs to be baked at the same temperature, and if possible, put those items in the oven at the same time. Even if you have to use the oven multiple times, you can save energy by keeping it on and cooking items in succession. The less your oven needs to heat up, the less energy it uses.

Make a stew with leftovers

Simmer the leftover turkey, vegetables (including scraps), and any stuffing or rice into a hearty stew. Even turkey bones can enrich your stock – just make sure to remove them before serving. By using up every part of your turkey and vegetables, you’ll be saving the planet as well as your wallet. Free free to freeze any stew you don’t eat immediately for up to three months.

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