It’s easy to let Thanksgiving shopping get away from you and make less-than-ideal choices based on facility or under the guise of tradition. But it is possible to have a sustainable Thanksgiving, if you use the tricks, tips, brands and recipes below.
Shop local when you can.
It’s no surprise that shopping local can help keep your carbon footprint low, and seeing as Thanksgiving menus are based on local produce, it shouldn't be too hard to accomplish this task. The only problem? Not all Americans live in the land of squash, sweet potatoes, and cranberries.
Our regional Thanksgiving menus take advantage of produce that may be local to you no matter where you live in the U.S. Consider putting a spin on tradition, then use farmer's markets, farm boxes, and apps like Harvie to help you reach out to local farmers directly so that you can take advantage of only the best local ingredients for your holiday feast.
Choose Sustainable Ingredients
When it comes to Thanksgiving shopping, choose the most sustainable brands you can: anything with the USDA organic or regenerative organic labels is a good start in our book, but here are five brands taking Thanksgiving classics and turning them into something you can be proud to serve to your family.
1. Diestel's Pasture-Raised Turkeys
Unlike many mass-produced turkeys, the birds from Diestel Family Ranch are slow grown, giving the birds time to develop premium flavor and texture.
"A broad-breasted bird is what you’ll typically find when shopping at the supermarket, but many are raised with a focus on getting pounds to market, so they’re grown very quickly and in large quantities," explains Heidi Diestel, fourth-generation turkey farmer at Diestel Family Ranch. "Diestel farmers walk the flock daily and pay close attention to the turkey’s health, which removes the need for antibiotics."
Diestel turkeys thrive on vegetarian feed and open, irrigated pastures, where they are free to forage. They also play an essential role in Diestel's polyculture philosophy, which seeks to rebuild the soil and restore biodiversity through myriad efforts including composting, water filtration, and the elimination of toxic chemicals and fertilizers.
"For us, it’s not enough to just protect our resources," says Diestel. "We’re on a mission to restore them for generations to come."
2. Fatworks Rendered Animal Fats
Whether it's as a base for stuffing, pie crust, or roasted Brussels sprout, fat will surely play a role on your Thanksgiving table. For much of our cooking, we'll turn to Fatworks, which produces a wide variety of healthful, high-quality animal-based fats made using pasture-raised animals raised on non-GMO feeds: no preservatives, no additives. $24
Each fat in this company's line has its own distinct nutrient and flavor profile: chicken and duck fat may be perfect for stuffing or dairy-free mashed potatoes, while pork fat will make sautéed kale and collard greens the most popular sides on the table.
3. Pacific Foods Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup
If you're a green bean casserole purist, consider making at least one change this year: moving away from overly processed cream of mushroom soups and instead opting for this product from Pacific Foods. This organic cream of mushroom soup is also gluten-free, making it a healthier option for everyone at the table. 12-pack, $40.75
From the Organic Authority Files
4. Dandies Vanilla Marshmallows
Another classic of Thanksgiving tables across the country is marshmallowy sweet potato casserole. For this comfort food recipe, rely on Dandies Vanilla Marshmallows, the only vegan, gelatin-free marshmallow on the market. Made with high-quality, clean ingredients like like real vanilla and vegan cane sugar, Dandies are devoid of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and gluten. 10 ounce pack of 2, $10.89
5. Maple Guild Maple Syrup
Whether you're glazing roasted carrots or flavoring your pecan pie, maple syrup is an all-American ingredient that deserves its spot on your Thanksgiving table. We love the syrups from The Maple Guild, the largest single-source, completely vertically integrated maple syrup producer in the world. The Maple Guild owns all of its 350,000 trees, planted on about 16,000 acres in Vermont, and leave them to grow naturally without pesticides or treatments. The syrup is made using steam heat, which processes the sap more quickly and results in a syrup with purer flavor. $15.99
Pick more plants.
Experts agree: going plant-based is the single best way you can reduce your climate impact. (So say these researchers from Oxford, and so say we!)
While turkey is usually the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving meal, it doesn't have to be. Vegan Thanksgiving roasts can be just as impressive and delicious, and plant-based Thanksgiving sides will please omnivores and vegetarians alike. Here are five of our all-time faves.
1. Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato casserole is usually loaded with cream and butter, but this spiced, plant-based vegan sweet potato casserole recipe relies instead on almond milk, pecans, and oats to add loads of flavor and texture to this brightly colored Thanksgiving side dish.
2. Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is a mainstay on many a Thanksgiving table. This version relies entirely on plant-based ingredients: green beans are tossed in a creamy cashew-almond sauce and topped with crispy, gluten-free onions for a vegan play on a comfort food mainstay.
3. Miso-Glazed Brussels Sprouts
These caramelized Brussels sprouts get a delightful hit of umami flavor thanks to a maple-miso glaze.
4. Wild Rice Stuffing
For a grain-free, plant-based alternative to classic bread stuffing, this gluten-free recipe made with wild rice, mushrooms, and herbs really does the trick.
5. Kale and White Bean Salad with Tahini Dressing
Thanksgiving tables can tend to be laden with heavy, stick-to-your-ribs food, so we love to add at least one dish that's lighter and brighter in flavor. This hearty kale salad with a zesty lemon-tahini dressing really hits the spot.
Related on Organic Authority
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13 Atypical Thanksgiving Recipes for a New Spin on the Classic Holiday
5 Tips to Uphold a Healthy Diet this Thanksgiving
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