Opinion

Holiday hints to feast on

My mom thinks I’m crazy because I think it’s OK to bring Tupperware out to restaurants. In fact, I like to provide reminders whenever we go out to eat.

Did you bring your containers? Did you bring your bags? I’m a broken record of green reminders which I’m quite certain everyone around me appreciates.  On a side note, great gift ideas this season are reusable travel chopsticks and foldable containers.

With the holiday season shortly upon us, many of us are starting to anticipate the gluttony and abandonment of portion control while navigating savvy advertising geared to getting you to buy some pretty unhealthy products.

For example, the amount of chocolates being sold this time of year is astronomical. One of the flyers I received had four pages devoted to chocolates. These are chocolates that contain genetically engineered ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and soy lecithin.

As well, the low price of these products is contingent on farmers being paid abysmally low prices for their corn, soy and beets.

Highly processed food products have been demonstrated to have impacts on human health particularly in rates of cancer, obesity, and diabetes. As well, the idea that concentrating consumption over a week or two having little impact is far from the truth.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Public Health and Nutrition looking at processed foods in Brazil concludes that ready-to-eat, highly processed foods should be banned from sale due to their negative health impacts.

While the nutrition of these food products is questionable, the impacts on the environment from transport of food products and ingredients across the globe generate significant emissions and waste.

According to Metro Vancouver, families in 2010 generated approximately 440,400 tonnes of solid waste, of that number roughly 39 to 45 percent was compostable organics much of which is food waste. Just for your information, approximately 71 per cent of residential waste is compostable organics, paper and plastic. These three categories represent most of the waste that gets produced particularly en masse during the holidays.

Food waste is an on-going problem, and an issue worth bringing up around the holiday dinner table. Suggestions to reduce food waste and environmental impacts are plentiful. Eating seasonally and tailoring your festive feasts with creative use of produce that is readily available during the winter such as cabbage and brussels sprouts is one way. Another great way is to make shopping lists and to stick to them! Choosing organic foods and free-range turkeys, meats and eggs, or local and seasonal products is one way to do it.

The holiday meal, or meals if you’re in my house, usually generates a fair amount of leftovers. Dealing with and celebrating leftovers requires ingenuity and resourcefulness. In our house, every year after the turkey dinner we make a bunch of soup stock and a delicious turkey congee. For many of my friends and myself, I have been known to deeply appreciate having leftovers to take home.

On a final thought, while many of us this holiday will be eating our fill, and then some, many others in our community are not. In Richmond, an estimated 30,000 people are considered low-income, and food programs can only do so much.

Supporting the Richmond Food Bank or local community meals with a donation of food, time, or more appropriately, cash, will make a meaningful impact for many of Richmond’s needy this holiday season. Merry green feasting and happy holidays Richmond!

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