Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Thanksgiving, Do You Really Need That 4th Slice of Cheesecake?

The Green Miles is driving up to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving with my family. Don't worry, I'm carpooling in my re-used '99 Saturn (35mpg highway).

I'm sure I don't need to tell you to buy local and organic when you can. But let me give you one question to chew on: Do you really need to eat that much on Thursday and buy that much on Friday? Is the crazy level of consumption making you happy or do you just feel obligated?

At my family's Thanksgiving dinner, there will be approximately 20 cakes, pies and plates of cookies for the 20 people. Why? Because everyone brings a dessert. Why? Because that's just what everyone's done forever and now if you don't bring a dessert you get some sort of Catholic guilt. Then at the end of the night, everyone tries to get out of taking home 12,000 calories worth of cheesecake they don't really want but will feel obligated to try to eat before it all goes bad.

In this case (as in so many cases), going green isn't about depriving yourself -- it's about making everyone happier. This year, I'll be stopping by Cardoza's in Fairhaven to grab some organic wine and local beer. Mom will be happy we're making contributions to the feast, the guests will be happy to have some good drink options, and I'll be happy that the leftovers can be enjoyed at our hosts' leisure without going bad.

Then on Friday, everyone gets up at the crack of dawn to go shopping. While a few people like my cousin Bernadette have their purchases mapped out and expertly take full advantage of the bargains, many just wander out because buying lots of stuff on the day after Thanksgiving is The American Way. They return with shopping bags and unpack them in a daze, like they're honestly not sure what's in there.

Look, if gorging on 8,000 calories and blowing money on random junk you may or may not use really makes you happy, go for it. Spend your Saturday gorging on leftovers and going back for round 2 of shopping. But I can't help but think most people go overboard just because they think they're supposed to.

My little bit of challenging the conventional wisdom: Sipping instead of scarfing. What's yours?
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