We asked Aubrey Neuman, Executive Chef of The Social List, Kat McIver, one half of the Wide Eyes Open Palms team and Tiffany Chen of Green Long Beach! to give us tips on how to have an easy and sustainable Thanksgiving meal.
1. Repurpose Vegetable Carcasses
Aubrey Neuman, Executive Chef at The Social List, suggests repurposing vegetable carcasses so you have fewer dishes to wash, less water to waste and more items to compost for the health of your garden (see #4).
"You can reduce the amount of work you have to do after the meal by repurposing vegetable carcasses," she explained. "An empty pumpkin or squash can be used as a bowl, it looks festive and you can bake your stuffing or whatever you're making inside of it. You can even use a cleaned out orange to carry pumpkin fluff, a healthier style of pumpkin pie for a delicious dessert.
"Whenever I make pumpkin pie and stuffing, I'll save the outside of the pumpkin and use it as a bowl for the stuffing. This year, instead of doing the traditional sweet potato dish, I'm doing a spin-off using acorn squash, which I'll hollow out and use as the bowl."
2. Invest in a Roasting Pan
If everyone in Long Beach used a disposable roasting pan we would send thousands of those tinfoil bothers to the landfill. Instead of skimping on a necessary kitchen tool, borrow a pan or buy one.
While you’re at it, use cloth napkins instead of paper, serve your own filtered or tap water instead of buying bottles, and instead of buying table decorations, use dried leaves, pinecones or other natural materials for a festive centerpiece.
3. Buy Locally Grown Vegetables and Local Meat
Kat McIver of Wide Eyes Open Palms says it all starts with where you source your food. “There are still two farmers markets in Long Beach for the feast,” she said. “I encourage folks to come out, support your local farmers and use this as an opportunity to buy local.”
“If you are going to be eating an animal centered meal this holiday, I'd also encourage folks to buy from the local, humane meat companies (there are TWO at the Wednesday market) or source from a natural foods store that can give you organic, humane, antibiotic free and even heritage (the best!) animals.”
The remaining farmers markets include the Bixby Park’s Local Harvest Farmers Market from 3:00PM to 7:00PM on Tuesday (today) and Wednesday’s Local Harvest Farmers Market at Marine Stadium from 3:00PM to 7:00PM.
If you're looking for locally sourced, fresh vegetables for your Thanksgiving meal, check out the map below, provided by Sustainable Long Beach, of the city's community and demonstration gardens, as well as urban farms. Make sure to call ahead of time to double check the garden you're seeking is open.
4. Compost at Home
While Thanksgiving leftovers belong in the fridge and in your mouth, the food scraps, such as onion peels, fruit and vegetable trimmings, potato peels, melon rinds, crushed egg shells and uneaten organic food can be used as plant fertilizer.
Tiffany Chen of Green Long Beach! suggests setting up your own home-composting system. While there are free composting classes offered by the city (the next one is December 20), for Thanksgiving you can set up a small-scale compost bin in your backyard. Check out this how-to article on the dos and don'ts of composting from the Environmental Services Bureau.
5. Invite Your Entire Family, Your Extended Family and Your Friends
Last, but not least, sharing food with those that have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, whether it’s a friend who can’t fly home or someone who has less, is one way to build a sustainable community close to home. Sustainable cities are built on sustainable agriculture which heavily involves maintaining a community of sharing and giving back.