Sustainable holiday cooking

SAYRE, Pennsylvania (AP) — In 2020, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that the average United States household wasted more than a third of all the food they purchased. That adds up to an annual estimated cost of $240 billion. Large gatherings with too many leftovers contribute heavily to this waste. Holiday celebrations can have a significant impact on the environment.

From excessive food waste to energy consumption, traditional holiday cooking practices often contribute to carbon emissions and environmental degradation. However, one can enjoy a festive meal and minimize our ecological footprint with sustainable and mindful cooking practices.

Reducing Food Waste

One of the biggest challenges during holiday cooking is the chicken, cake, and other delicious dishes that leave a lot of leftovers. Planning is the key to combating this issue. Start by creating a detailed shopping list based on the number of guests and their dietary preferences, ensuring you purchase only what is necessary. This helps reduce the likelihood of uneaten leftovers.

Consider donating excess food to local food banks or composting organic waste. By diverting food from landfills, you can reduce methane emissions, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Even small actions like repurposing leftovers into creative meals can make a significant difference.

Supporting Local and

Sustainable Businesses

Supporting local and sustainable businesses is a powerful way to positively impact both the environment and communities. Look for local farmers’ markets, food cooperatives, or community-supported agriculture programs prioritizing sustainable practices. By sourcing ingredients from these vendors, you reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and support small-scale producers who often employ eco-friendly farming practices.

Luci Petlack from Luci’s Morsels says, “Fall and winter offer wonderful seasonal produce. Look for more locally grown, seasonal produce, from pumpkins and sweet potatoes to the onions in your stuffing. Local, seasonal options are more delicious and healthier and require fewer transportation emissions to get them to your market or table. Shop at any farmers market or just check the stickers on produce — countries are always identified.”

Purchasing eco-friendly kitchen supplies from local artisans and businesses contributes to the local economy and encourages the production of sustainable products. This conscious approach to holiday cooking results in delicious meals and fosters a sense of connection and responsibility to the environment and local communities.

Choosing Sustainable Ingredients

When it comes to ingredients, opt for locally sourced, organic, and seasonal products whenever possible. Supporting local farmers promotes a sustainable food system and helps reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance transportation.

Incorporate more plant-based dishes into your holiday spread. Explore flavorful vegan and vegetarian recipes that showcase the abundance of plant-based ingredients available during the holiday season.

Add an easy coleslaw or salad recipe to the menu. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. By including more plant-based options, you can reduce your carbon footprint while still enjoying delicious and nutritious meals.

Even adopting a flexitarian approach, where plant-based meals complement occasional servings of sustainably sourced animal products, can make a positive impact.

Sustainable Seafood Choices

Consult reputable seafood watch guides and choose species harvested or farmed responsibly. Prioritizing local and seasonal options reduces our carbon footprint and supports sustainable fishing practices. Steer clear of overfished species. Look for third-party certifications that confirm your selections are environmentally conscious.

Embrace diverse seafood options and reduce food waste to contribute to a more sustainable culinary experience. By making informed choices, we not only savor delicious dishes but also become stewards of our oceans and leave a positive legacy for generations.

Mindful Energy


Holiday cooking often involves multiple appliances, which leads to excessive energy consumption. To minimize energy usage, take advantage of energy-efficient appliances and cooking methods. Consider using smaller appliances like a slow cooker for your beef or turkey dishes since they consume less energy than traditional ovens. Keep lids on pots and pans to retain heat, and match the burner’s size to the cookware’s size to avoid unnecessary energy loss.

Plan your cooking schedule strategically to maximize oven efficiency and reduce preheating time. Batch cooking or using the oven’s residual heat for multiple dishes can also help minimize energy waste.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 13% of the world’s population cannot access electricity. So, while using a thousand lights for your Christmas tree and other decorations this season may be tempting, it would be more eco-friendly to power it with solar panels or LED technology.

Eco-Friendly Cookware

and Utensils

Use reusable baking sheets, silicone baking mats, or glass containers instead of disposable aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Opt for bamboo or wooden utensils instead of single-use plastic ones.

Choosing tableware from sustainable materials like bamboo, wood, or stainless steel adds an eco-conscious touch to your culinary preparations. Invest in durable and sustainable kitchen tools to reduce waste and contribute to a greener future.

Avoid Single-Use


Opt for reusable containers, glass jars, and eco-friendly wraps, instead of single-use plastics. This minimizes waste and contributes to a healthier planet. Invest in long-lasting, high-quality cookware to enhance your cooking experience and eliminate the need for disposable alternatives.

These practices ensure that your holiday feasts are delicious and aligned with the principles of environmental stewardship, making the celebrations sustainable and memorable.

Julie Navitka from Successfully Sustainable says, “Avoid single-use items. I have been to many big family holiday meals where single-use items like paper plates, napkins, and plastic cups are used to avoid the hassle of cleanup. Don’t have enough dishes for everyone? Ask one of your sustainably-minded guests to bring a set of theirs. Use reusable cloth napkins or even tea towels rather than paper napkins. Or purchase some made from recycled materials.”

This holiday season, you can make a point of embracing sustainable cooking practices and creating an eco-friendly celebration. By following these mindful tips, you can positively impact the environment while still enjoying a delicious and memorable holiday feast. Prioritize sustainability in your holiday cooking and inspire others to do the same, ensuring a greener and more sustainable future.

This article was produced by Low Carb Africa and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


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