The article below was submitted to us by a 1 Million Women community member.
This time of the year we build up anticipation and have month long preparations for the peak day of indulgence in food, festivities and presents. It's a difficult time of the year to keep our eco-values front and centre. Planning and prepping for a big Christmas meal takes a lot of time and energy. To make your meal sustainable doesn't take that much more effort, just a few key things to think about.
Below are some of the key areas to consider when aiming for earth friendly food choices this Holiday Season.
1. Plan ahead
When setting the menu for your Christmas lunch or dinner consider some of these factors to make sure you are choosing a menu that is better for the planet. Look at what is available before you select recipes, instead of the other way around.
- Buy Local and Seasonal – aim to choose menus and ingredients that are abundant in your local area. This lowers our food miles (how far the food has been transported from farm to table) within in our meal. Not only is this better for the planet it also means the food will be fresher, taste better and be more nutritious.
- Figure out serving sizes so you don't over shop. This site has a great serving size calculator so you can cut down on food waste.
- Make a list and stick to it. Aim to shop with a list and only buy what's on the list. This stops you from getting tempted by flashy packaging, Christmas specials and other marketing tactics in the shops.
2. Make it Quality over Quantity
The star of the Christmas meal is usually a meat or seafood dish. These both have a large environmental foot prints, but if a vegetarian dinner won't go over in your household there are some other ways to make the main dish more eco-friendly.
- Sustainable meat choices – buying Organic or free range meat products means better quality meat and a better for the planet. Choose wisely and if you can buy direct from a farm or a quality butcher.
- Sustainable Seafood Choices – Use a sustainable seafood guide to choose better species that are more abundant and from healthy fish stocks.
- Whatever the star of the meal is, it doesn't need to take up half the table. You can have a really quality meat or seafood dish and have it served in smaller portions and have lots of other amazing side dishes to compliment it.
3. Where you Shop
Aim to get your supplies for Christmas from local makers, suppliers and farmers markets. Buying from larger supermarkets means that most items you buy will have layers of wasteful packaging.
Big supermarkets are also hard on farmers paying them low and forcing them into difficult supply requirements so the supermarkets can keep prices rock bottom for consumers.
Local Bakers, Butchers, Whole food and Bulk stores all provide opportunities for you to shop waste free and get a quality products from local suppliers.
Farmers Markets are ideal for stocking up on fruits and veggies for all of your holiday recipes. Be sure to bring your own bags and look for organic options.
4. Choose Eco Options
Buying Organic isn't just good for you, it's good for the farmers, the land, the environment and the planet. Aim to buy as much organics as you can. If you can't get everything organic then aim for buying the Dirty Dozen Fruit and Veggies as Organic (they are the ones with more absorption of pesticides than others). Google the Dirty Dozen to get the list.
We all have family traditions and sometimes we need to get the ingredients from overseas. If you need to buy something imported consider buying it Fair Trade. Within certified Fair Trade principles there are strong environmental criteria that need to be met. So buying Fair Trade is both good for the local people who farm or make the product, and the local environment around them. Fair trade Coffee, Chocolate and Sugar are all good options.
5. Bring in Gratitude
We all have a tendency to overindulge this time of the year. It's important to bring in a practice of Gratitude before we Eat, Drink and Be Merry. By making sure we take time to be grateful we can reflect on where the food has come from, the love that has gone into making it, and how truly lucky we are. This means savoring and enjoying the food, instead of gorging ourselves on it without thought.
There are plenty of other easy ways to bring sustainability into your Christmas meal. There is a How to Guide and free webinar that you can access that goes into depth about making this Christmas Meal more Sustainable. It shares about all the ways to make your food choices this holiday season sustainable, how to reduce food waste, sustainable recipe ideas and a free eco holiday meal planner and shopping list guide. Find out more Here!
Any of the step listed above can make your Christmas meal more sustainable. No matter where you are at, choose one step and start with that and then another one!
About the Author:
Jamie Van Jones has worked, lived, and breathed sustainable living for the past 12 years. She a passion for our planet and for living an amazing life on it. She believes that we can each live lighter on the planet and still enjoy life to the fullest. She shares easy and inspired ways to live lighter on and on . She also runs a 6 week e-course to help you live lighter called 'A Blissful Eco-Life' - It's enrolling now and starts January 19th.