“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.”
– Oscar Wilde
As the holiday season draws ever closer, Oscar Wilde’s quote resonates with pretty much every Xmas reveller; clearly he was never Taoist.
I’ll admit, I’m one such reveller. I love Christmas. I emphatically, empirically love its excesses: the carefree abandon, the joy on kids’ faces as they parade their new toys, the peaceful streets, the communal atmosphere of families spending time together…and of course the food!
Christmas meals are rightfully decadent affairs, complete with crackers, champagne and a bounty of food. My family and I choose to adopt the two meal philosophy, where we gorge on brunch then blob out until an early dinner session gets the gastric juices flowing once again.
No matter how you organise your Christmas meals, this article aims to prove that moderation isn’t fatal, that you can create a more sustainable, green and eco-friendly meal without ruining the sentimental traditions you and your family have maintained over the decades – after all, I’m not a modern-day Grinch.
But with these simple tips and changes you can streamline your cooking and dining experience on Christmas Day into an eco-friendly but equally tasty affair.
Before you even work out what to cook, consider saving energy by upgrading to energy efficient appliances – your fridge, oven, dishwasher and such – for that turkey and all the other cooking…it’s one potent energy saving tip that can also save you money in the long haul.
Then get inspired with recipes and side dishes to that turkey (cranberry and brie are classic flavour combos) or whatever your centrepiece is.
Buy local and seasonal
The main component to going eco-friendly at Christmas is to buy local. Say goodbye to the generic supermarket produce and hello to the seasonal, local alternative at your farmer’s market.
Buying mainstream produce from afar has two main downsides. The first is the environmental cost. It’s simply not sustainable to buy out-of-season produce like garlic from Spain or stone fruit from the US. The mileage alone is unnecessary and damaging to the environment.
The second downside is that a lot of imported produce sits around for months and gets trucked around the country. And while there are stringent quality control standards in place, this might help explain why supermarket produce often tastes inferior (check out this previous post on supermarkets) when compared to fresh, handpicked, local goods. Buy organic produce when possible too.
For most people, a vegetarian Christmas lunch is sacrilege, like the Judas of Christmas meals, but there’s a reason why celebrity chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigel Slater devote columns and recipes to exactly that. Vegetarian fare has developed far beyond the bland lentil slop of yesteryear into creative, amazing dishes you’ll be proud to serve.
What’s more, there’s a strong risk that the bird you buy at the supermarket won’t have had a happy life, living in inhumane, intensive factory farms with the possibility of abuse, mutilation and squalid conditions. If this concerns you, seek out ethical alternatives and at least consider where your meat is sourced from.
There is of course a happy medium for conscientious carnivores. Instead of buying a whole turkey, why not create a dish using some ethically sourced turkey as the main ingredient and surround it with delicious, locally sourced veggie fare.
On the day
So you’ve planned out your eco-friendly Christmas meal, bought all the finest ingredients, stocked up the fridge and readied all the equipment, accessories and utensils you’ll need. But there are still a couple tips to help you maximise your eco-friendly output and leave you feeling satisfied…
Watch your waste
Did you know that us Aussies will spend over $10b on food for the Xmas table but only two-thirds of this food will actually be eaten? Yes, that’s right, 1/3 of that food will go to waste! That’s over $3b worth of food literally down the drain, which is simply unacceptable in this age of inequality and food shortages.
Overconsumption is an issue that faces us year round but at Christmas it gets amplified to, well, excess. To remedy this, simply reduce the amount of food you purchase and cook. Remember, decadence is equally about quality as quantity.
Switch off kitchen appliances
Remember to switch off your kitchen appliances when you’re done to conserve power. This tip can and should be applied all year for maximum results. Turning off your microwaves, kettles and other small appliances at the wall will help save energy and help lower your energy bill.
Maybe if Oscar Wilde were around and armed with this information, he’d reconsider his stance. He might just deem excess to be fatal and moderation to have its place when it comes to Xmas meals.
For an eco-friendly, energy-saving advocate, let’s go even further back in time and listen to the ever-sagacious Plato, who once proclaimed:
“Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.”
We’ll raise a glass of organic bubbly to that! Merry Christmas everyone.
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