Christmas dinner is my favourite part of Christmas. Roast potatoes are my favourite but every bit of a Christmas dinner plays its part in making my Christmas great. But how sustainable and eco-friendly is it?
The Soil Association found that a typical Christmas dinner with all of its imported trimmings creates a nearly 50,000 miles. Should we be taking so much environmentally, when Christmas is supposed to be the season of giving?
How can we be as environmentally friendly when thinking about Christmas dinner?
First things first, you need to buy locally. Try to buy your produce from local and independent shops rather than big supermarkets, they’re much more likely to get their produce locally (but of course you should still check regardless of where you shop). Or perhaps a local farm shop or farmers market; if you’re in the UK, you can use the National Farmers’ Retail Market Association’s website to find your closest farmers market or shop. www.farma.org.uk/members-map/ Doing this will reduce the air miles dramatically.
Non-organic farms use over 3500 chemicals whereas organic farms use 4 or less; that alone is a good reason to choose organic produce. And if you’re a meat eater, organic turkeys have more space to roam before they’re killed and are not cooped up in sheds and cages like non-organic turkeys.
In the UK we have lost our sense of seasonal buying, we often buy the fruit and veg that we like, rather than what us in season and what tastes the best. There is a comprehensive guide on the BBC Good food website where you can check what is in season. Can you believe that broccoli and carrots are out of season? Not buying these cuts down on food mileage, we often import our favourite fruit and vegetables to suit our needs, and this can really rack up the miles.
Waste not, want not
To make your Christmas dinner even more eco-friendly, we really need to cut back on the waste. Make the most of your leftovers by making new and delicious dishes with them. Meat carcases can make great stock which can be the base for soups or to add to any dish that requires meat stock.
Any leftover meat can also make a stir-fry or curry and any leftover veg can make a great bubble and squeak. Additionally, anything you don’t want to or can’t eat can go on the compost pile to enrich your home grown fruit and veg for next year. Composting could be a entire blog post on it’s own (maybe it will be one day), because there are so many different ways and so many dos and don’ts. For now there is a great website called Carry on Composting that has lots of great guides and tips and tricks to help you find the best way for you.
Then there’s the issue of packaging. Buying loose veg at your local farm shop or farmers market is ideal, just go clad with your jute shopping bag. And when it comes to meat, some butchers and farms will be more than happy to package your meat in brown paper if you ask, you might have to supply it yourself, but it’s better than the polystyrene and plastic we are so used to in the supermarkets.
Ditch the meat
The meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Vegetables, especially those that are locally sourced are far more environmentally friendly. So why not have a meat-free Christmas this year? I have quite a few Christmas dinners to look forward to (the curse of having a large family and friendship group right?) and the one that I am most looking forward to is going to be all vegetarian. I found this great recipe from Anna Jones for a vegetarian Rainbow Pie that will be my contribution to the feast. Don’t be afraid to ditch the meat one year, vegetables taste amazing, are cheaper and are more eco-friendly, what’s not to love?
So there it is, my quick guide to a doable ‘green’ Christmas. I’m going to try and incorporate as many of these ideas into my own Christmas this year as possible, why don’t you join me?
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