Imagine, if you will, a Thanksgiving table of plenty not anchored by a meaty, glistening bird. In its place of honor, rather, sits a bowl of sea-chilled, slimy oysters. No? Don’t like that? How about a plank of grilled salmon? Venison steak? Mushroom casserole?
Heresy it may seem, but perhaps defaulting to the time-honored turkey isn’t the best choice when planning Thanksgiving dinner. After all, many greenies spend the other 364 days of the year caring deeply about how sustainable, humane, and local their meals are. Why should a Thursday in November be any different? Why shouldn’t we examine our menu choices more closely before going with the venerated poultry?
To tell the truth, I love traditional holidays almost as much as I love a good turkey breast. But this year, I decided to do some digging to find out if any other main dishes could beat out the old gobble-gobble when it comes to eco-friendliness.
The criteria for judging contenders for my holiday table are as follows: The dish must be sustainable -- that is, farmed, hunted, or gathered in a way that minimizes pollution and other harmful environmental impacts, plus preserves the population of the food in question. It must be humane. It must be local, to reduce shipping-related carbon. It must be as healthy as possible. Cost and flavor will be considered as a secondary factor. Also, the dish needs to have a low risk of me accidentally shooting myself in its pursuit -- so that means game like wild turkey, deer, bobcat, moose, and mountain goat are out. (All of which you can hunt in the great state of Washington, where I live.)
So, what should be on my menu for the greenest Thanksgiving possible? Here are the results, in ascending order.
7. Conventional turkey
Surprise! The regular old grocery-store turkey was the hands-down worst option.