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How to Prepare an Organic Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate food and family, a time to push your cooking skills to the edge and prepare a gourmet meal. If you're tired of making the same old recipes and want to try a few variations this year, why not change up the menu with organic and eco-friendly choices instead? Organic food will probably increase your Thanksgiving grocery bill a little, but the extra investment could be well worth it; better quality food and more flavorful creations are just a few reasons to go organic this Thanksgiving.

The first step in preparing your eco-friendly dinner is to design your only-organic menu. Head to the farmer's market and natural grocery store for a preview of the season's latest and greatest. You'll want to do this at least a week in advance, so take a small notepad if needed and mark down everything that could work for your dinner table. You'll be surprised how many organic choices there really are, and the more options you have, the more creative you can be!

Finding a free range turkey is the next step, and you can find this at most natural grocery stores and markets, but you might need to turn to local farmers if you live in a small community. Find a few organic farms in the area and ask about free range turkey or other meats for your Thanksgiving dinner table. Preparation is key, so calling at least two weeks in advance will help you find exactly the quantity you need. Free-range and organic meat is usually tastier and easy to prepare; it's free of artificial hormones, chemicals, and other preservatives that can change the way meat tastes and cooks. Buying from local farmers also means you'll help support the local economy. If you're going vegetarian or vegan with your Thanksgiving menu this year, you may consider cooking Tofurkey or organic tofu for the main entrée.

Round up organic potatoes, beans, and other vegetables. This will be part of your farmer's market and natural foods excursion, and you'll want to find as many fresh ingredients as possible. Organic fruits and vegetables are free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and other artificial ingredients. You can round up organic sweet and new potatoes from the local farmer's market, organic beans from the natural foods store, and other vegetables such as pumpkin and squash. Your eco-friendly Thanksgiving dinner is much easier to put together with fresh ingredients and you really can taste the difference.

Purchase organic cranberry preserves and condiments. You can find a number of organic sides and condiments at the local supermarket, and it's a great way to continue your eco-friendly theme in all parts of the meal.

Head to an organic bakery for all the baked goods and breads that you might not have time to prepare. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to enjoy fresh bread and other baked treats, and if you're not ready to put on your baking hat this season, a few loaves from the natural bakery can be just as valuable. Organic whole grains and flour are a much healthier choice than a bread basket filled with white flour (and high sugar) goods. Organic pumpkin pie and other desserts are another opportunity to enjoy some 'green' treats.

From free-range turkey to organic wheat rolls, making your eco-friendly Thanksgiving dinner is easy with a little preparation. You'll need to be creative with your usual menu items, but the extra effort for organic and natural foods can help your waistline-and the environment!

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