Thanksgiving is a holiday marked by indulgence--and rightfully so. The holiday coincides with Winter's first bite of cold and, as we've been taught since grade school, commemorates the pilgrim's first successful harvest in the New World. Though most of us likely associate the last Thursday in November with gathering around a warm, abundant dinner table--the early Thanksgivings were a celebration finally having something, anything, to eat.
As American folklore tells it, the first Thanksgiving dinner was a meal shared by the first Pilgrim settlers and indigenous Native American inhabitants--two groups generally associated in our cultural consciousness with ingenuity and sustainable living.
With that in mind, here are five tips you can use to honor the spirit of the first Thanksgiving.
1. Check Your Inventory Before You Shop
Most of us head to the stores with a list of Thanksgiving staples in mind--canned corn, , . But, the first Thanksgiving revelers ate what was already available to them. Turkey as the main course was a relationship of convenience. Who says you can't serve up that falafel mix or can of kidney beans that are hiding in the back of your cabinets?
2. Be Energy Efficient
While in the midst of kitchen chaos, it may be hard to keep track of which appliances are on. If possible, put multiple dishes in the oven that can be kept at the same temperature for the same amount of time.
3. Soup and Sandwiches and Casseroles
This is probably second nature for most of us--feasting on leftovers isn't just smart and sustainable, it's probably the best part of Thanksgiving. Turkey and stuffing sandwiches are the stuff dreams are made of. That leftover Turkey makes for a fine soup base, as well. Why not toss all those leftover veggies and potatoes in a casserole pan while you're at it!
Once all the meat is cleaned of the bones, the turkey carcass can be safely added to a compost pile. Be advised, though, make sure you aren't adding any actual meat scraps to your compost pile--it will stink and attract various and sundry unsavory critters. If you start a compost pile now, you'll be good to go when it comes time to start your own backyard garden.