8 Ways to Make Your Hanukkah More Sustainable

By choosing sustainable food and gifts, you create a healthier, safer and more eco-friendly holiday whose impacts stretch to your community, farmworkers and our environment.

Sarah Newman
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Heirloom potatoes
Heirloom potatoesCredit: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS / Wikimedia Commons
Sarah Newman

This Hanukkah, you can spread the light of environmental sustainability and social justice. By choosing sustainable food and gifts, you create a healthier, safer and more eco-friendly holiday whose impacts stretch beyond your home to your community, farmworkers and our environment. Here, Haaretz presents eight suggestions for making your holiday more sustainable.

1. Organic apples and potatoes

Apples and potatoes are ranked #1 and #12, respectively, on Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue. Take pesticides out of Hanukkahand prepare your latkes and applesauce with safer, healthier and tastier organic apples and potatoes.

2. Wooden dreidels

Plastic is forever, and we are literally drowning in it. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive floating vortex, comprised mostly of plastic, that stretches from the West Coast of the U.S. to Japan. It doesn’t need more spinning plastic dreidles!

3. Fair Trade gelt

More than half the world’s cocoa is grown in the Ivory Coast, where children are forced to work on farms without pay or safe conditions. Get guilt-free gelt, instead! Choose kosher certified gelt, produced only by adults at a democratically-run fair trade cooperative in Ghana.

4. Organic sour cream

If you like heaps of sour cream on your latkes, make sure you choose rGBH-free dairy (and organic, if possible). Otherwise, you’ll be eating sour cream made from cows that are fed a genetically engineered hormone to boost their milk production. The health impacts aren’t conclusive yet about rGBH, but many scientists have expressed concern about a possible link to cancer. And, it’s scary enough that rGBH is banned in Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

5. Heirloom potatoes and apples

If you want to have the most-talked-about latkes and applesauce, then prepare your dishes with heirloom potatoes and apples. Heirloom plants can be hundreds or thousands of years old. Due to their uniqueness, they are not grown in industrial agriculture. With threats from climate change and questions about how to feed billions of people, heirloom plants ensure genetic diversity and environmental sustainability in the face of these global challenges.

6. Beeswax candles

Honey bees pollinate every third bite of food we eat. However, Colony Collapse Disorder – a massive die-off of bees worldwide – threatens our global food supplies. Support your local beekeeper buy purchasing beeswax Hanukkah candles.

7. Buy local

When you buy Hanukkah gifts from local shops, you are investing in your local economy, helping to provide good neighborhood jobs, supporting unique businesses and lessening your environmental impact. Buying food grown locally helps to preserve open space and food sources and your money is a direct investment in local farmers. And, with a short trip from their farm to your fork, the food will probably taste better, too!

8. Flax eggs or happy chicken eggs

You can use flax eggs instead of chicken eggs (1 tbsp flax seeds, 3 tbsp water) in your latkes. If you prefer chicken eggs, choose ones that are pasture-raised. Such chickens are humanely raised on small farms where they spend their days in fields. They’re happier and healthier, so their eggs taste better!

Chanukah Sameach/Happy Chanukah!

This post originally appeared on Neesh Noosh: A Jewish Woman's Year Long Journey to Find Faith in Food.

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