Green living: Going green this Thanksgiving

The most obvious eco-solution this Thanksgiving, is to do away with the turkey and go all vegetarian. But what's Thanksgiving without turkey? The option here to go organic and source from local farms instead of a store-bought turkey.

I can go on and on about green living holiday tips until I'm blue in the face but I'm guessing most of what I would say has been thought of. So I'm going to focus instead on a few labeling distinctions when it comes to buying turkey or for that matter, any animal product. Commonly seen labels on meat products include "free-range", "antibiotic and hormone free" and "organic".

Free-Range: It evokes a fluffy image of animals grazing in the pastures, doesn't it? In a lot of cases, the 'free-range' label is deceptive. Most of these animals that are labelled free-range are usually kept in cages and let out from time to time in order to qualify for the label and consequently the higher price that the meat fetches. Truly free-range meat products can only be guaranteed directly from the farmer. Additionally, free-range does not always mean organic. However, free-range meat does taste better and contains lesser amounts of fat.

Organic: Organic means anything grown without chemicals i.e., fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, GMO. When it comes to turkey specifically, the avoidance of hormones means that you can rarely get a bird that weighs over 14-16 pounds. The organic label does not necessarily mean free-range. Again, local farms who follow organic and free-range practices are your best bet. Many small farmers follow these methods although they may not be able to afford the certification.

Hormone and antibiotic-free: This label is added if these products are not administered to the animal. It is not necessarily organic; it can be a conventionally grown animal without hormones and antibiotics.

If you do not have access to a local farmer and you only shop in a grocery store, endorse a product that has both the 'free-range' and 'organic' label. You can always increase the green-quotient of your holiday through other means. Try and buy all your other products for the sides and dessert from a farmer's market or from the organic aisle. Plan the menu carefully, so you don't over-cook. If you do have left-overs make sure you have eco-friendly packaging so that you can give away some of the food.

The main focus of your meal should be seasonal products and vegetables that are locally sourced. Apart from food and decor, Thanksgiving is obviously about giving thanks to the people in your life, all the little blessings and also in some small way giving thanks to the bountiful Earth that made it all possible.