Be Thankful, Not Wasteful

I hinted at this on Monday, but I wanted to throw down an expanded call to action for Thanksgiving and after: Be Thankful, Not Wasteful

Thanksgiving celebrates abundance. And we should absolutely enjoy the celebration. At the same time, I don’t think we honor anyone or anything by wasting food.

I’m calling on you to help ensure that your family or friends do their best to eliminate or minimize waste at your Thanksgiving feast. Here are a few ideas:

  • Be sure to distribute the bounty. If you’re the Thanksgiving host, suggest that your guests bring along a few plastic containers of various sizes to fill with leftovers (or have a bunch on hand). There’s no sense centralizing so much food that we’ll struggle to put to use. Being so overt about leftovers may feel a bit odd, but that slight discomfort will pale in comparison to the disappointment from having to toss pounds of once-good food.
  • Celebrate abundance, not excess. Don’t take too much when you serve yourself. You can always go back for seconds! Keep in mind that the average Thanksgiving dinner today comes in, conservatively, at 2,057 calories. And remember, what’s on our plates is seldom saved.
  • Properly save those leftovers. And do it quickly. Not letting foods sit out too long in the bacteria danger zone (40-140 degrees F) will mean they’ll be safe to eat and also last longer.
  • Plan for your leftovers…and eat them! Whether it’s a turkey pot pie, turkey soup or turkey tacos, find some fun ideas that’ll get you excited to use up your T-day remains.

Share Your Tips and Tricks

Help others reduce waste around Thanksgiving by sharing your insight. We’ve already received a few helpful tips, including Rachel’s idea to make notes on the number of guests, the amount of food eaten and the amount remaining to help prepare the right amount next year.

I’m directing people to the Wasted Food Facebook page where we are compiling a series of tips, successes and–should they occur–failures. These can be videos, photos or descriptions from inside people’s Thanksgiving dinners.  Feel free to post during the prep, the dinner itself, or the “aftermath.” Together, we’ll create a living blueprint for how celebrations can balance abundance with respect for resources.

A few ideas:

• Videos describing what your friends/family are doing this year to reduce food waste. Or, if a video is too much, a photo or description of the steps taken will work just fine.
• A recipe or two for your favorite dishes made from Thanksgiving leftovers.
• Your preferred way to make the perfect leftover turkey sandwiches.
• An “unboxing” video of leftovers from the dinner you attended.

Spread the Word!

  • I hope you will consider letting your social network know about the Be Thankful, Not Wasteful initiative. Please share this post and ask folks to take action on their own. (And of course to post their results!)
  • Do you blog? Please consider a post or video encouraging your readers to participate. Ask readers to join you in adding their voice to the discussion.
  • Mention the initiative–and this fabulous new book–at your Thanksgiving celebration. I mean, I don’t want you to start any dinner table arguments or anything, but…
  • Solicit tips and tricks from your friends and family who aren’t social media savvy and post them yourself – I know I’ll be asking my Grandma for some ideas.

Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we’re all focused on food. Let’s leverage that as a call to action to change our wasteful ways for the rest of the year. I think the day will be more meaningful that way. And remember — even incremental changes can have a massive effect if they’re done by millions of Americans.

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  1. Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I’ve accepted the challenge and am posting your challenge on my blog. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Posted November 25, 2010 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    Great guidance, Jonathan. One last thing — if there if the above doesn’t completely eliminate your wasted food, don’t forget to compost!

    Best to you and your family for a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving.


  3. Posted November 25, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Jonathan I have posted a comment on NCA this morning. I have been thinking about my next blog post and may try to get one out today as it is one calendar month away from Christmas. My comment on NCA explains! I’d like to link my thoughts on Christmas food planning with some of what you have written and also an image of your book and link. I’m not sure if it’s okay to lift copy and image from NCA? If you could let me know that would be very much appreciated as the issues you raise regarding Thanksgiving are appropriate to the UK Christmas period – Jo (please feel free to e-mail if you’d rather than reply through your blog)

  4. Posted November 25, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for spreading the word! Hope everyone has had a fabulous Thanksgiving and is gearing up for Black Friday National Leftovers Day! So many uses for turkey…

  5. Posted November 28, 2010 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Cook only the food that your family can consume. It’s one way of reducing waste or leftovers. Thanks for the info Jonathan!

  6. Moffat
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    This year for just 2 of us I only cooked small turkey breast; very little waste. No drumsticks which neither of us like, just basic white meat turkey. We had leftovers Saturday night and plan to finish the rest Monday. I didn’t even make mashed potatoes because with the stuffing, yams, vegetable, etc., I felt they were unnecessary. We did not miss them. I am trying hard to cook in portion-controlled sizes. I hate wasting food. (I need to learn how to boil down the leftover bones for turkey stock.)

  7. Posted December 20, 2010 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Jonathan, I believe we are soulmates.

    My partner Marlene Samuels and I founded because throwing out perfectly good food to us feels immoral and even un-creative. So like ethnographic researchers, we’ve been lovingly compiling a community cookbook of gourmet rescues in six categories: Negligible Quantities; Stems, Skins & Stalks; Past Peak; Once Cooked; Nearly Expired; and Ill-Fated Creations.

    See: Bill Daley’s Thanksgiving write up about Expendable Edibles in The Chicago Tribune

    Tell me, do you have a minute? I’d love to get your reaction to the mission of our site when our new blog goes live this week. Our first post comments about Parker-Pope’s NY Times article, your words to the wise, and links your book back to Amazon. Let me know when’s a good time to call. We’re in Chicago: 773-255-4677.

    Nancy and Marlene

    Nancy Gershman and Marlene Samuels
    Gourmet rescues for the un-spoiled
    Phone: 773.255.4677

  8. Posted December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    similar notion, differently expressed. the Japanese speak of practicing KANSHA in the kitchen and at table. its an appreciation for the sustenance nature provides and for the diligent, clever people who take that bounty and nourish themselves and others with it.

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] word of “Be Thankful, Not Wasteful” on your blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter. (Click HERE to view Bloom’s original post.) Let’s band together to make food waste avoidance more [...]

  2. [...] if you’re cooking up a feast, read this excellent post by Jonathan Bloom of Wasted Food, called Be Thankful Not Wasteful. Send your friends and family [...]

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