By Sarene Marshall, The Nature Conservancy
Happy Thanksgiving!† Todayís the perfect day for reflecting on what the traditional Thanksgiving meal can teach us about the right food choices for the environment, and for our health and happiness. Here are my top three tips:
Eat the foods that are in season. Think about traditional Thanksgiving desserts, such as apple pie and pumpkin pie. Ever stop to ask why strawberry shortcake isnít typically on the menu? Itís because apples and pumpkins are in abundance in the fall.
Meanwhile, berries (which are summer fruits), arenít typically around in November, unless they are flown from around the world. Thatís an option that the pilgrims didnít have at their disposal, and itís best to follow their lead here, as transporting out-of-season produce to our grocery shelves comes with an enormous carbon footprint. In fact, studies show that the ingredients for the average American meal travel well over 1,000 miles to reach the dinner table, many times more if it includes out-of-season ingredients.
Anyway, out-of-season strawberries taste terrible. Since they are picked under-ripe to withstand long-distance shipping, they are pale, juiceless, and certainly not sweet. So stick with in-season ingredients Ė they taste better and do significantly less damage to the planet.
Eat your veggies (and few, if any, four-legged animals). Sure, there is a lot of food on the Thanksgiving table, and some of our most-loved side dishes and desserts may be laden with too much butter or salt. But the general balance of food groups on the Thanksgiving table follows what we know to be a blueprint for a healthy, balanced diet that contains a variety of colors, a large number of vegetables and grains and a small amount of meat Ė none of it red.
This kind of balance is also healthiest for the planet. Poultry has a much lower footprint than beef, and vegetables much less than poultry.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
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