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By Sydney Swanson
As we head into the holiday season, the marathon task of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner or even just one dish to contribute as a guest—may be stressful.
To help you combat the inevitable stress surrounding this meal, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together this guide suggesting what to make yourself and what to buy, and when to go organic.
Most conventional turkeys are tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, potentially exposing consumers to foodborne illnesses and hard-to-treat infections. To avoid these risks, look for a turkey bearing one or more of these labels:
- USDA Certified Organic.
- Certified Humane®.
- Global Animal Partnership Steps 3 to 5+.
- Certified Animal Welfare Approved.
Confused by head-spinning labels? EWG's turkey label decoder can help.
Make your own: Purchase a turkey from a local farm by searching for your city or zip code at LocalHarvest.
Vegetarian or Vegan Options
Make your own: Check out this Vegan Wild-Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash recipe. Use organic cherries and consider replacing the rice with quinoa. We advise limiting rice consumption, as both organic and conventional rice may be contaminated with arsenic.
Pro tip: Use EWG's 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce® to determine which products have the highest amount of pesticide residue. Choose organic versions of these fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
As tempting as the occasional shortcut may be, try to avoid canned vegetables. Most cans are lined with bisphenol A, or BPA, a potent endocrine-disrupting chemical. Instead, grab a reusable bag and head to the vegetable aisle for fresh, organic green beans.
Make your own: We recommend this Simple Skillet Green Bean recipe.
Make it easy: Frozen organic green beans will also do in a pinch, but opt for whole organic green beans rather than cut, since they retain their nutrients better. Earthbound Farm Whole Organic Green Beans score well in EWG's Food Scores, a free database that rates nearly 80,000 foods on nutritional concerns, ingredient toxicity and degree of processing.
Pro tip: Other kinds of frozen vegetables may be a good alternative. Visit EWG's Food Scores' frozen vegetable category for options.
You can avoid feeling groggy after eating this high-carbohydrate dish if you stuff your stuffing with protein, fiber and healthy fats. Consider adding nutritious ingredients like nuts, apples, celery, cherries or cranberries, and carrots.
Make your own: Check out this Healthy Harvest Stuffing recipe. If possible, choose to make it with organic celery, cranberries and apples.
Make it easy: Arrowhead Mills Organic Savory Herb Stuffing is USDA Certified Organic.
Pro tip: Replace the low-sodium chicken broth in this recipe with unsalted vegetable broth for a vegetarian-friendly dish.
Potatoes are on EWG's Dirty Dozen list, so it's best to use organic. Most frozen or instant mashed potatoes aren't, so we recommend making this dish from scratch, which will also allow you control how much butter and salt go into it.
Make your own: We recommend this Healthy Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe.
Make it easy: If you prefer to use an instant version, Edward & Sons Organic Home Style Mashed Potatoes and Edward & Sons Organic Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes are USDA Certified Organic.
Pro tip: Replace a few potatoes with the equivalent volume of cooked kale (or try this kale colcannon recipe) to add extra vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals to the dish and reduce the carbohydrates.
Cranberry sauce provides an extra punch of flavor, but it can come at a cost: unnecessary sugar. Try making it from scratch, since most store-bought versions are more than 30 percent sugar.
Make your own: EWG recommends this Best Homemade Cranberry Sauce recipe, preferably made with organic cranberries.
Make it easy: Pacific Organic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce doesn't contain any artificial ingredient – although it's 41 percent sugar by weight.
When gravy enthusiasts drench their mashed potatoes in this kind of thick sauce, they're adding loads of sodium to their plate. Most store-bought products contain more than 20 percent of the National Academy of Medicine's recommended daily sodium intake. You might want to make the gravy yourself and even consider a vegetarian option.
Make your own: To cut the salt content, try using a low-sodium broth to make your favorite recipe.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Who doesn't love eating dessert as a side dish? Replace the typically high sugar ingredients while preserving much of this dish's sweetness by using seasoned nuts, toasted organic oats, coconut flakes or pineapple for a healthier yet equally decadent dish.
Make your own: We recommend this Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole recipe. If possible, use organic apple sauce.
Make it easy: Simple Balanced Organic Mashed Sweet Potatoes score moderately in EWG's Food Scores. However, if you have guests who are watching their salt intake, they may want to skip them.
Whether making your special pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup recipe, choose a puree packaged in a carton or BPA-free can.
Make it easy: Pacific Organic Pumpkin Puree comes packaged in a BPA-free carton.
Not only can you control the amount of salt, sugar and other ingredients added when you do the cooking yourself, you can also reduce the amount of waste produced during Thanksgiving, maybe even save some money. And that's a lot to be thankful for!
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dan Gray
- Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
- A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
- It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.
New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.
By Jeff Turrentine
Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?