By ALICE BALDYS
Just prior to this Thanksgiving holiday, the mayor of Seattle did the unthinkable. Yes, he pardoned Braeburn the tofurky. But this year he was not the only one setting trends when it came to traditional holiday fare. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey went vegan for the holiday, and his decision made national news headlines. For Americans that celebrate Thanksgiving without the turkey, the milk-filled mashed potatoes, bitter cranberries and pumpkin pie, there are luckily now plenty of alternatives.
As we enter the holiday season that is filled with similar meals, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate away from the traditional fare. However, there are many reasons to ditch tradition, aside from the fact that it is just, well, plain boring. Ethically, one should worry about inflicting pain and the factory like conditions of mass meat producers on any animal. Therefore, the buy fresh, buy local mentality exhorts the shopper to explore what is outside their own front door for seasonal freshness and lowered environmental impacts.
Grocery store meats travel 1,500 miles on average, and this raises the price of fossil fuels and food simultaneously, while also needlessly increasing carbon emissions. When it comes to turkey, wild turkeys have the benefit of living free range, and, unlike store bought turkeys, they are able to fly. Their conditioning and genetics causes them to weigh as much as 20 pounds less on average. It is a whole different bird from birth to plate. So if consumers are not up to the usual frozen, genetically modified, artificially inseminated and mass produced product of major retailers, there are other options.
There are numerous kinds of poultry to fill in for the butterball bird, including a grease-covered goose weighing in at a hefty but manageable 8-12 pounds. A delicate single-sized Cornish hen, a delicious pheasant or perhaps emu meat will do the trick. Consider a wild turkey locally raised and prepared that is rich in dark meat and far leaner than its grocery store counterpart. Then again, one might prefer a side of beef to that bird any day.
For those Americans avoiding meat altogether this year, there were a plethora of choices from the more traditional green bean casserole and butternut squash to Seiten, ‘the wheat meat’ stuffed with mushrooms and walnuts or quinoa – a protein rich grain.
The food allergy crowd can look forward to gluten free and lactose free delicacies, including braised kale, polenta with mushrooms and acorn squash with cranberry apple stuffing. Delicious takes on the original fare are always there to be found. Maybe even vegan ice cream with that apple pie could be up your alley.
So as you are boarding trains, planes and cars this holiday season, consider the alternatives. As we look toward the holidays, cook beyond expectations.