10 Tips for a Sustainable Friendsgiving
By Andrea Spacht Collins
It's been a big year for me: new name, new address, renewed sense of purpose about the need to tackle climate change now. As the holiday season approaches, I'm reminded that I couldn't have done any of these things on my own. I have a powerful community of friends who have supported me. And I can't wait to honor and celebrate them over Friendsgiving dinner this year.
While Thanksgiving gets the most attention, this 21st century holiday is a wonderful way to connect with your chosen family too. Unfortunately, big feasts like this often result in a lot of food going to waste. Nobody wants to be wasteful. It generally happens because we want to show we care by filling our guests' stomachs — or because we're unsure how much to cook for a big group.
But when good food goes to waste, so does everything it takes to get it to our plates. Each year, about 200 million pounds of turkey meat are thrown out over the Thanksgiving holiday. It takes a lot of resources to produce that meat. The greenhouse gas emissions from a pound of wasted turkey meat are equivalent to those of burning a half gallon of gasoline. And producing that pound of turkey meat used up 520 gallons of water; you could run your shower for 75 minutes with that much water.
It doesn't have to be this way. As scientists continued to sound the alarm on climate change this year, this Friendsgiving is an opportunity for us to celebrate in a way that invests in each other's future.
Here are my top 10 tips for a more sustainable celebration that is just as delicious, festive and Instagram-worthy as ever:
1. Plan Your Portions
Figure out just how much you need to prepare for your party by using the Natural Resources Defense Council's free digital portion planner, The Guest-imator. You tell it how many people you are hosting, what kind of eaters they are, what you are serving and how much you want leftover, and it tells you how much to prepare.
2. Start Small
Serve dinner on salad plates. Especially if your guests tend to have a lot left on their plate at the end of the meal, start with a smaller plate so that when they pile it up, it's more closely aligned with what their tummies can handle. If anyone is still hungry after the first pass, they can always go back for seconds.
3. Pardon a Turkey
If you're willing to make your own traditions you can save a bit of cash and a lot of climate pollution by prepping a vegetarian main course instead of the bird. That's because meat has an outsized climate footprint, so wasting it especially harmful for the planet. Skipping the meat can also help keep our lifesaving antibiotics working when sick people need them. In fact, turkeys are given antibiotics more intensively than other food animals in the U.S. — a problem that is fueling the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections in humans. A beautiful stuffed squash can be an eye-catching main dish without the added climate guilt or risk of Salmonella superbugs.
4. Keep the Peel
Since you're already planning a crazy amount of side dishes, save yourself some time and don't bother to peel your veggies. Just give them a good wash and embrace the rustic look.
5. Pickle It
In recent years, gut health has become a core (pun intended!) facet of a healthy diet. Fermented foods like pickles are great for your digestive system, and also happen to be a good way to preserve surplus produce. In the weeks before the party, consider pickling veggies — from cauliflower to onions and carrots — that you aren't going to get to before they spoil, and serving mixed veggie pickles as part of your appetizer board.
6. Salvage a Cooking Crisis
Burned the stuffing? Over-salted the gravy? Potatoes too bland? There's a fix for that so you don't have to toss it!
7. Savor Your Scraps
Give surplus ingredients from your core recipes new life — whether as a new addition to the Friendsgiving feast, or in the week to follow. Leftover pumpkin puree? Mix it up into a pumpkin spice cocktail. Extra fruit and opened bottles of wine? Make sangria. Too many potatoes? Make donuts.
8. Love Your Leftovers
For those dishes so good that less than a single serving is left behind (like my famous green bean casserole!), incorporate them into a frittata, soup or pasta for Tuesday when you'll no longer have energy to cook something fresh.
9. BYO Doggie Bag
Tell your guests to bring a to-go container to share the leftover love.
10. Just Freeze It
The freezer is a magic pause button for food — and almost anything can be frozen. If you don't eat it within a couple days after the feast, freeze it, label it and you'll be excited to have a pre-made option in a couple weeks when you need it!
So pull up a chair, give thanks for all that's good, enlist your friends in the fight to prevent food waste and build a better future for the people you love.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
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