Photo: Festive green holiday feasts

You've got the greenest tree decorated with popcorn strands and felt bobbles. Homemade candles are sustainably wrapped in fabric and loved ones feel blessed by your gift of a healthy environment. Children sing. Snowflakes fall. It's bliss.

Time to turn your attention to the raison d'être of the season — food!

Festivities truly begin once the family has gathered around a feast, often with a turkey at the centre. (Or not — we'll get to that.)

Choose free-range, organic turkey

Once you've tried a free-range organic bird, there's no going back. Besides being succulent and delicious, they're humanely raised by farmers who focus on reducing water pollution, maintaining biodiversity and preserving the long-term integrity of the soil. And organic birds aren't given hormones or genetically modified (GMO) feed. This kind of goodness isn't often found in the big box stores. Talk to your local butcher, farmers association or farmers markets to source a bird that's worthy of the spotlight on your table.

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Veggie holiday meal alternatives

Vegetarian holiday feasts are increasingly popular among eco-minded revellers. But since available life cycle analyses only consider conventionally raised turkeys, I'm not sure organic birds are any less green than processed soy alternatives. If you opt for a veggie version, be sure to look for organic soy products—conventionally grown soy is almost always GMO.

Avoid GMOs at on your holiday table

A few other ways to steer clear of genetically modified organisms:

  • Choose organics
  • Look for the GMO-Free certification
  • Choose olive oil instead of canola—the latter is almost exclusively GMO when conventionally grown
  • Use only milk (and foods containing milk products) from Canada

Think local and from scratch

Before you reach for the can of cranberry sauce, ask yourself: Can I make this? The answer, by the way, is a resounding yes. My cranberry sauce recipe is crazy easy and the homemade version offers all of the goodness, without any bisphenol A (BPA) from the can lining!

Why stop there? Pumpkin pie, homemade mulling spice, fresh bread—you can do it all!

Don't waste a thing

Canadians waste more that $27 billion dollars worth of food annually and half of that is household waste. Start the New Year off right by resolving to be part of the solution and make the most of your holiday feast!

How will you green your holiday table this year?

Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green

December 13, 2012

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Dec 24, 2013
8:00 AM

Great ideas — however, there is a commonly used statement on the chart that is just not true: “Organic veggie alternatives boast the same health benefits as organic meats with a lighter carbon footprint.” Please see this excellent article for evidence that raising organic meats may be what saves our planet as it has a far friendlier carbon footprint than does the monoculture production of veggies ( Also as much as many of us wish we could be healthy long-term on a vegan diet, here is an article that points out the difficulties for human omnivores to receive all the necessary nutrients from a meat-free diet ( Unfortunately, going veggie does not equate going healthy nor green.

Dec 21, 2012
3:56 PM

My Christmas feast will be vegan and as much as possible will be locally sourced including the cranberries. I am giving mostly gifts that give twice (donations to charities in honour of…), My wrapping paper is what my gifts came in last year.

Dec 20, 2012
10:34 AM

We keep our holiday table green by cooking with locally sourced meats and by using cloth napkins and avoiding disposible plates.

Dec 20, 2012
10:17 AM

I am buying as much as I can from the farmers markets this year! It’s the first time I’ve been to the winter markets around the Lower Mainland and I love it! I can get most of what I need there for dinner and I’ve been buying a bunch of my gifts at the markets as well.

Dec 20, 2012
10:10 AM

Since we already eat as organic/local/fair-trade as possible, we’ll be doing the same through the holidays. Luckily some of our family has caught on as well so we won’t have to turn down too much non-organic meat at gatherings. For our small family we’ve ordered a turkey from the Unfactory Farm.

Dec 20, 2012
9:54 AM

We will have an organic free range turkey, and all of the root veggies we grew in my and my grandmother’s gardens. We’ll also use cloth napkins at the table, and we’ll have home made cranberry sauce, and desert, the bread that will go into the stuffing I make myself, and we even keep the chickens whose eggs help to make the bread.

Dec 20, 2012
9:49 AM

We’ll be serving kale, Swiss chard and carrots fresh from our (covered) garden, local, organic turkey, locally grown potatoes, wine made right here in our house, home baked bread for the stuffing, freshly whipped cream from a local organic dairy, organic, fair trade chocolate and much more green goodness! We’ll have beeswax candles from a local beehive on the table too! Merry Christmas!

Dec 18, 2012
2:33 PM

I didn’t find another way to email you so I ask my question here — not related to salmon…

I need to clear the drain in my bathroom sink. There was an enzyme product I could buy when I lived in Berkeley but can’t find in Vancouver.

Do you have a recipe for this?

Thanks so much,


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