December 11, 2013

How to make your holiday meals more sustainableThanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are some of the best opportunities for chefs to show off what they can do. Whether it’s cooking large meals for family and friends, receiving presents that can be used in the kitchen or donating their skills to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, graduates of culinary schools get to indulge every aspect of their craft during the holiday season.

A sustainable holiday season
The holiday season can sometimes get more publicity for the way people overindulge in eating and shopping than for the positive things people do for each other this time of year. One way to counteract that impression is to make your holiday meals sustainable and environmentally friendly.

For instance, use locally sourced products as much as possible. If you are cooking the traditional Christmas ham, look into farms within 50 or 100 miles of where you live that either sell their products directly or to local butcher shops. Try to use vegetables that are in season – like Brussles sprouts, kale and leeks – so you can cut down on the excess environmental costs of packaging, transportation and storage.

One of the greatest parts of holiday meals is the fact that we can use every last bit of the ingredients and dishes over and over. It’s widely acknowledged that, as good as those dinners may be, the leftovers can sometimes be far superior. So put together some recipes that you can use to turn your extra servings into brand new dishes. Not only will it be tasty, but you will also be continuing the theme of holiday sustainability.

Sustainability-focused holiday gifts for the cooking program graduate
If you’re shopping for someone who has taken culinary classes, you might want to get them something a bit more exciting than a cutting board and knife set. In keeping with the sustainability theme, consider finding things that your favorite home cook can use to employ environmentally friendly practices in their kitchen.

Cookbooks are always a great idea, and “Vegetable Literacy,” by Deborah Madison, provides plenty of helpful tips on how to prepare and cook vegetables without doing harm to the environment. And Rebecca Lando has a new book out that focuses on eating organic for less, called “The Working Class Foodies Cookbook: Real Food, For Real People, Real Cheap, 100 Delicious Organic Dishes for Under $8 Per Person.”

With a little bit of extra thought and effort, you can make this holiday season a special one by keeping the waste minimal and discovering new ways to cook food in a sustainable manner.