Have a Green Holiday

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Tompkins Weekly 12/10/2012
By Karen Jewett-Bennett

I’m always looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint. This holiday season I’m learning I’m not alone. I’ve noticed that newspapers, magazines and social media abound with ideas for paring down the giving/shopping and simplifying the holidays.

Buying (or sourcing) gifts locally, or making your own gifts with materials or ingredients available in your locally-owned stores means that less energy is used in transporting the materials to you. When you shop locally your money stays in the community, rather than supporting far away companies and distribution centers.  If its is  food you are buying it will be fresher, and in many cases, more nutritious than food that is harvested and transported to the store. Sourcing food locally is something that you can practice year round –once you get the hang of it. Creating your holiday dinner with local items is a great place to begin.

I’m making plans for my first 100 mile holiday meal—I’ll be searching out all of my ingredients grown, raised, harvested or made within 100 miles of my Dryden, NY home.

We are so lucky to live in Tompkins County where local farmers are committed to selling their abundance to all of us. There are farms and ranches in our area where local meat is available. Local hogs, lambs/sheep and beef are readily available. Both chicken and eggs are also available and in some cases can be purchased in local grocery stores. The lakes and creeks have local trout, bass and pan fish that are delicious fresh, smoked or pickled.  Keep your ears and eyes open for turkeys or venison.

After I decide on my main course protein source (meat), I’ll take a trip to the Ithaca Farmers Market at Steamboat Landing. The Farmer’s Market is open Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm until December 22, 2012.  Available winter produce includes some beautiful root vegetables (beets, carrots, rutabagas and turnips), cabbages, kale and collard greens. The Farmer’s Market also has local meat, eggs, cheese and baked goods.  I’ll be there on Dec 8 looking for my honey (or maple syrup) for my holiday baking. I’ll be back on the Dec 22 to watch the turnip curling and to purchase produce for the holidays and beyond.

I am so happy that Challenge started FingerLakes Fresh! The locally grown, and delicious, lettuce is available, roots and all, in my local grocery store.  I’m happy that I made (and froze) tomato paste with my surplus tomatoes this summer but I wish I froze more blueberries and strawberries.  I’ll be on the lookout for local preserves and for packaged cranberries that I just learned are grown just north of Syracuse.

I’ll be in touch with Cayuga Pure Organics  to purchase local flour for my baking. And I’ll adapt my pecan and almond recipes for walnuts and hazelnuts this year. (Thankfully its still not warm enough for almonds here.)
This month our friends at Get Your GreenBack Tompkins (http://getyourgreenbacktompkins.org/) are offering the Local Harvest Holiday Challenge. I’ll be making the challenge with my 100 mile meal. Hope you will join me in a green holiday.

Karen Jewett-Bennett is the Director of Operations at Sustainable Tompkins. In the summer months you’ll find her fishing on Cayuga Lakes west shore with her new husband Hal.

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