Christmas is a time for caring, so why not turn your attention to looking after your local community this festive season? Focusing on food sustainability and supporting the local economy can enhance the Christmas experience. Find out how to have a more environmentally-friendly holiday this year.
More of us are looking closer to home when it comes to sourcing our food: 55% of UK consumers prefer to buy local brands to help local producers, according research by the Independent Retail News.
However, sourcing local produce is not just about supporting your community; it reduces food miles – the distance food travels to your table – and it makes it easier to understand the provenance of food. With greater consumption than ever – the UK eats 80% more food during the festive season – most of us will likely have a larger carbon footprint over Christmas. Buying British, and locally produced food, will dramatically reduce the environmental impact you make during the festive period.
Know the provenance of your meat
The roast is likely to be the centrepiece of a Christmas dinner, so knowing the origins of the meat and how it has been reared is important. A local butcher should be able to tell you about the welfare standards of the farm that the meat has come from. Homeowners who live in the countryside may even be able to go to the farm itself, or to a farm shop. If you have the space, such as on a smallholding property, you could even consider rearing your own animals.
Reap vegetable rewards
According to the IRN survey, 33% of people said ‘taste’ is one of the main reasons people buy local produce, and there really is nothing as tasty as fresh vegetables. If the vegetables have been grown locally, you’ll be eating seasonal Christmas food harvested at its peak and packed with nutrients. Buying from the local greengrocer will help to further reduce your carbon footprint. If you have a smallholding, consider growing your own for a sustainable farm-to-table approach to your holiday celebration.
Support local artisans for your spread
One of the most enjoyable aspects of local produce is its individuality. Rather than buying mass-produced fare from the supermarket, you can feast on breads, cheeses, chutneys and chocolates that are as unique as the people who produce them – as well as looking wonderful on your Christmas dining table. Supporting local artisans that have sourced their ingredients from local farms, properties and companies will spread good cheer and an environmentally-friendly message throughout the community.
Find local, environmentally-friendly drinks
UK vineyards have been going from strength to strength in recent years, with 3.86 million bottles of still and sparkling wine released for sale, according to the latest figures. This year, why not partake of beverage options that haven’t had to travel far, incurring a higher impact on the environment? For those looking to lower their carbon footprint still further, organic and biodynamic wines are growing in popularity. These avoid pesticides or non-natural solutions to growing crops, and are kinder to populations of bees and animals in their growing area.
Christmas all wrapped up – without the waste
In the UK, we collectively use 4,500 tonnes of tin foil and 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging over Christmas, according to Commercial Waste magazine. For a more environmentally Christmas, think reusable. You could source some attractive cloth napkins and serving plates from a local supplier to reduce your carbon footprint and support the local community. To reduce food waste – unfortunately, the UK throws away 230,000 tonnes of food each Christmas – look for recipes for creating delicious dishes from leftovers. If you have unopened food, try donating to your local food bank or homeless shelter.
Making merry with local produce
Sourcing your Christmas dinner locally will help you create a unique festive spread, and knowing you’ve had a Christmas that’s kinder to the environment will give you a warm glow that lasts all year round.