Seven Holiday Meal Tips for the Eco-Conscious

The holidays...time for family, friends, and – most importantly – FOOD!

There’s nothing quite like Thanksgiving dinner with family (“pass the cranberry sauce and hold the politics, please!”), the classic sandwich of leftovers the next day, or your aunt’s famous pecan pie. ‘Tis the season of food!

And as the holiday season approaches there are lots of actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint while we enjoy our celebrations. Food accounts for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, so, put simply: what we eat matters.

Check out the tips below for how you can minimize your impact this food seas- um...we - season.

1. Shop local.

What better way to celebrate nature than through the delicious and nutritious foods it provides us? Appreciate the bounty of nearby working lands and support the agricultural economy by shopping from local farms and farmers markets. You will minimize emissions from food being shipped across the world, and you might even save some money!

Farmers market 1

2. Shop seasonal.

Another way to check yourself on emissions is by shopping according to what’s in season. Try to stick with foods that are going to grow in the climate of where you’re living. If it’s December, consider opting for fruits like oranges and pears. Fruits like strawberries, which are ripe during the summer in California, are more carbon-intensive (and expensive) than your in-season fruit because they must be shipped from elsewhere.

farmers market 2

3. Experiment with plant-based recipes.

Minimize your emissions by incorporating more plant-based recipes into your meal plan this season! The animal agriculture industry is responsible for up to 40% of global methane emissions – one of the most potent greenhouse gases - so if you’re looking for substantial ways to minimize your footprint, this is one of them. Opting for more plant-based options is also a great opportunity to experiment with new recipes, try new foods, and maybe get a few more greens in than usual.

vegetarian meal

4. Get involved.

Support organizations like La Mesa Verde to improve the community’s access to healthy food! Our food system won’t be sustainable until it is equitable – and La Mesa Verde is working to promote food justice with their urban garden and education programs. And for some extra recipe inspiration, check out their recipe page here.


5. Buy fair trade.

Another way to support sustainability and justice in your food purchases, is to make sure what you’re buying is “fair trade,” meaning your cup of coffee or square of dark chocolate was produced with safe, ethical working conditions, environmental impacts, sustainable livelihoods, and community-driven operations. Learn more about Fair Trade products here.

coffee hands

6. Shop with reusable bags.

One simply way to minimize your impact is to use reusable grocery and produce bags. Reduce excess plastic use, and flex on everyone with your cool new shopping bag.

farmers market 3

7. Reduce food waste.

25-30% of the food produced worldwide is wasted according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Some estimates suggest that food waste is responsible for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions due to the methane it produces from rotting in landfills. Minimizing food waste is one of the most effective ways individuals can mitigate climate change, and there are all kinds of ways this can be done:

  • Compost your food waste instead of throwing it away
  • Befriend the freezer (not literally, that may earn you a few weird looks)
    • Freeze extra food you won’t be able to eat before it spoils
    • Freeze vegetable cuttings to use in a broth or soup
  • Buy only what you need at the store
  • If you’re getting a pumpkin for baking or jack-o-lantern making, use as much of it as you can
    • Toast up some pumpkin seeds
    • Make veggie broth out of the "stringy bits" after carving your pumpkin
    • And don't forget to compost your jack-o-lantern instead of throwing away - or ask a local farm if you can donate to give their animals a festive treat.

freezing food

As climate chance progresses, our food choices matter!

This holiday season we hope you will use these tips to minimize your impact, make a difference for the planet, and support local ag!

November 03, 2021
For media inquiries contact:

Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer