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How to plan a sustainable holiday meal

Lentil and Sweet Potato dinner pie
Lentil and Sweet Potato dinner pie
Erin McClure

Holiday meals are all too often loaded with foods that are not sustainable. A variety of convenience foods are available, to suit the holiday needs of most people. A typical holiday meal may include one or many of the following culprits such as factory farmed turkey or other meats, canned foods, shelf stable processed foods, items containing GMO, or foods served on or with disposables.

Sustainably raised food looks more appetizing, is tastier and more nutritious. This type of meal requires a bit of planning and effort, however the rewards are clear. Bringing sustainable food to the table supports a healthier planet.

How to create a sustainable meal

1. Choose pastured meats and dairy

Pastured animals are allowed to graze, and their products contain beneficial fats.

Find pastured meat: Downtown Arlington Farmers Market, Burgundy Pasture Beef, Walnut Creek Farm

Find meat free of antibiotics, hormones, and fed without GMOs: Fran's Fryers

2. Provide at least one vegetarian main dish

See vegetarian recipes:

Seasonal Squash: 5 Unique Recipes

Herbal Highlight: Bay Leaf- Bay Laurel Lentils recipe

Fall Cookbook: Spanish Rice- good stuffing replacement

3. Avoid canned foods, choose fresh food in whole form

Cans are commonly lined with BPA, which is known to leech into food.

Read more about BPA: Bisphenol A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food.

4. Choose locally grown produce

This late in the year, there are a few farmers markets still going on in the area:

Cowtown Farmers Market- Saturdays year round (spring-early fall open wed as well)

Downtown Arlington Farmers Market- Fri and Sat

Grand Prarie Farmers Market - Sat through Dec 18

Beach Street Local Market-3rd sunday of each month through December

5. Prioritize produce purchased at the grocery store

Avoid EWG's“Dirty Dozen” and prioritize organic produce

6. Avoid foods that may potentially contain GMO

Choose organically grown for anything corn, soy, canola (rapeseed), or cotton (common edible part-cottonseed oil.)

Read more about GMO foods

7. Avoid disposables

Use dishes, utensils, and napkins that can be washed and reused.

8. Pollute less

Ride a bike, walk, or carpool whenever possible to meal gatherings

9. Share all the recipes, including where the foods were found

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