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"Happy Organic Thanksgiving" - Written By Sarah Outlaw (Co-Owner of 90210 Organics) Originally For Natural Life 101.com

Happy Organic Thanksgiving!

By Sarah Outlaw

As I prepare my menu for the upcoming Thanksgiving meal, one thing is clearly evident. I will be using mostly organic ingredients from local sources. Not everyone may have the resources to afford a completely organic Thanksgiving, especially if you don’t have a local health food store or Farmer’s Market nearby. The goal here is to give you some tips on purchasing your ingredients and better equip you to be able to make the best choices for you and your family.

The most important item for most Americans on Thanksgiving is the turkey. The healthiest turkey would be one that is allowed to roam free on the farm pecking at bugs and eating vegetation and not confined to a coop or barn. This is known as a free-range turkey but USDA standards are not really regulated in this area. You may think you are getting a free-range turkey when in fact you are getting one that only has the free range of its barn and coop. Do a little research and ask who you are purchasing the turkey from if the conditions it was raised in are known. Stores like Whole Foods are more than happy to share that information with buyers because they take such pride in where their supply comes from.

In addition to a turkey being free-range it should also be organic. An organic turkey means that it was raised with no synthetic hormones or antibiotics. Hormones would be given if the farmer wanted the turkey to grow faster and fatter. Antibiotics would be used instead of safer alternative methods if the turkey became sick. If the turkey is also free-range it can not have fed from any pasture or field that was sprayed with pesticides. Common sense says that it may not be a good idea to ingest something meant to kill bugs. A truly organic turkey is difficult to guarantee, although USDA standards are much stricter on certifying organic turkeys than they are about regulating free-range only turkeys. You want to be sure you are getting your turkey from a reputable source. If it doesn’t say ‘no antibiotics’ or ‘no hormones’ on the label, chances are it has both in it. You don’t want to be duped into paying more than the bird is worth.

I like to have quite a few vegetable dishes on the table for Thanksgiving. I am fortunate to have a Farmer’s Market in my town that is open year ‘round. I am able to purchase organic or ‘no sprays used’ apples, yams, green beans, potatoes, and all the other fresh ingredients for my recipes. Americans tend to eat more than usual on Thanksgiving so being able to provide food free of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics is more important than you may think. Know where your food comes from and how it is grown. To find a local Farmer’s Market, visit the Local Harvest Website.

Creating a healthy, organic Thanksgiving is also part of making it a ‘green’ Thanksgiving. Here are some ways to make it even more ‘green’. Take the 100-mile Thanksgiving Challenge by Treehugger. Buying all your food from local farmers reduces greenhouse gasses and emissions which in turn reduces your carbon footprint.  By buying local, you not only get fresher food but you get to help the environment out as well. A great resource on cooking local, seasonal and organic foods is Harvest Eating.

Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. Use your best china and silverware instead of paper plates. You will use less water and energy washing your dishes in the dishwasher then the energy it would take to handle all the garbage from everyone using disposable tableware. If you absolutely have to use disposable, opt for things that are biodegradable.

The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family this Thanksgiving is be thankful for all the blessings you have received over the last year. As you sit with your friends and family this year, don’t forget to say thank you.


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