The Gift Giving Guide for Negative Foods Eaters
The Holiday Gift Guide (33d) Edition of the Negative Foods Newsletter
Every year, my dad would tell us that Christmas had been canceled. Of course I do the same for my kids. Although I haven’t managed to cancel the holiday (yet), I have been pushing for years for less stuff under the tree. Consumerism is causing the environmental crisis, so FFS please buy less stuff!
But the holidays are upon us, and it is a delight to delight our loved ones with gifts. So… what to buy for the aspirational negative foods eater?
Food is unique. It is unique in that we must eat to survive, of course. You need food. But it is also unique in that some foods can have negative carbon footprints (“Negative Foods”). In other words, some food can be produced in a way that draws carbon from the atmosphere instead of emitting carbon.
So gifting food - which we all need - is inherently better than gifting stuff that people don’t need. And gifting gifts that get people to eat more Negative Foods is even better!
Cooking. Eating at home generally has a better carbon footprint than eating out. And it can be a vessel for memorable experiences and great relationships. And preparing food helps us be more mindful about our food choices.
Cook for The People You Love. Nothing will make you feel better than preparing delicious food for people you love. Everyone will be happier and healthier. Make it interesting (and lower carbon) by learning to cook plant-based meals.
Teach People to Cook. Teach a person to cook with recreational cooking classes. I’d done several super fun classes and events at the ICE in New York, and we hosted our 5th anniversary party as a cooking class at Ramekins in Sonoma.
Hunting for Food. It is hard to imagine food with better carbon footprints than eating wild animals that you’ve personally hunted. In 2022 I intend to hunt for the first time (and stock our chest freezer). This might not be for everyone, but if you have friends that grew up hunting, you know that families that hunt together have created terrific bonding experiences and memories. I’ll try this is a gift for my kids, and I’ll write about it next year.
Outdoor Experiences. We need wild areas and biodiversity for the sake of the human species. If a person falls in love with the outdoors, they will have something to fight to protect. The skiing in Park City will diminish over the next 20 years, and my kids, who love skiing there, will be motivated to fight to protect those mountains. Taking loved ones camping, fishing, sailing, skiing, foraging, hunting, climbing, hiking and mountaineering will give you great experiences and something to fight for. I’m in a big stretch of mountain biking and backcountry skiing with my kids, and I hope this helps them grow up to be climate activists. I look forward to fighting to protect our public lands alongside my future adult kids (and their kids).
Civil Disobedience! Take people you love to march for climate justice. Take a Friday off from work and encourage your kids to ditch school to Strike for Climate! My teenagers and I created terrific and meaningful memories in NYC BLM marches. Civil disobedience can be more fun than most people realize.
Micro Loans for Food Businesses. As a gift, make loans on Kiva to women starting food and agriculture businesses in Africa or South America. It is great to do this with kids. And the gift recipient is almost certain to get your money paid back (which they can then recycle into future similar loans).
Carbon Credits. Buy your loved ones carbon credits that will result in regenerative agricultural practices that store carbon in soil on U.S farms and ranches. One way to start would be to purchase credits to offset the air travel emissions associated with visiting loved ones for the holidays.
Mindfulness. If we were all more mindful, we’d all make better lifestyle choices with the environment in mind. Give a membership to Waking Up, and help people wake up!
Charitable Donations. Support charities on the front lines of the climate revolution by making a donation as a gift. Consider Kiss the Ground, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, or the Environmental Defense Fund. There is something here for everyone. Young conservatives can support the American Conservation Coalition. Hunters can join hunting organizations supporting the fight against climate change.
Wild Hunted Meats. It is difficult to buy wild hunted animal meat. But if you are friends with avid hunters, their freezers might be overflowing and they may be happy to share some inventory that you can gift.
Regenerative Meats. Remember that industrial beef is the worst climate food. If you are looking for gifts for meat eaters, I recommend frozen bulk orders from farms growing animals regeneratively, such as Hickory Nut Gap, Pasturebird, Wholesome Meats and Force of Nature.
Dried Soup Mixes. Plant-based soups generally have terrific carbon footprints. Patagonia’s soups are convenient and amazing. Bob’s Red Mill soups are fabulous. Stock up!
Sustainable Fish. From a taste, convenience, social equity and impact perspective, I’ve seen no finer food than Patagonia’s Lemon Pepper Wild Sockeye Salmon. It is the shelf stable gift that everyone will love.
Booze. Hey, it is the holiday season, and we are going to ring in the new year, right? You might as well do it with booze that helps reverse climate change. So consider wines made from grapes grown with regenerative practices, or carbon neutral beer, or beer made from grains like kernza, or carbon neutral gin.
Produce CSA Subscriptions. Eating more plants from local farms is a great way to lower your carbon footprint. The gift of a CSA subscription keeps on giving. And will hopefully get people to eat more plants and support local farms.
Personal Tools for Lower Impact Eating.
Chest Freezer. I don’t buy animal proteins from supermarkets, only direct from suppliers I know and trust, and so I store it in bulk in the chest freezer in my basement. This would make for a useful big ticket gift.
Swedish dishcloths. Gift these dischloths to eliminate paper towels in the kitchen.
Kitchen Composter. Gift a simple compost bin for the kitchen counter to help your loved ones keep compostable materials out landfills.
Reusable Wooden Utensils. I keep wooden utensils in my backpack at all times, to help me avoid disposable cutlery. A simple and useful gift.
Used Goods. Since my kids are still growing, and we have big snow sports plans for 2022, most of our gear this holiday season has been purchased from the Worn Wear division of Patagonia. Year round, Buy Nothing groups are a great way for goods to be reused in local communities (we are active in our local group, trying to make sure the stuff we won’t use in the future stays out of landfills).
Goods Made from Recycled/Upcycled Materials. Search on Etsy for “recycled” and you’ll be amazed at the creative gift opportunities. Check out Project Vermont. You can easily buy things made from recycled materials for many gift categories, such jewelry, clothing and outdoor gear.
Lasting Goods for Multiple Uses that can be Repaired. Commit to gifting only things that people will use for many many years. Commit to repairable gifts. Commit to gifts that can be used for multiple uses, like my hard shell that I use to protect me from the elements in all seasons and in many use cases, and for many years.
Avoid Bad Gifts! And of course you should avoid certain categories of gifts. Don’t gift cheap plastic stuff that nobody needs. Don’t gift crap processed food or industrial meats. Don’t gift anything the recipient doesn’t need.
Avoid Fashionable Apparel. Fashion is an environmental disaster, and buying new clothing each year is not making you happier, cooler or more attractive. Fast fashion accelerates the worst attributes of the apparel industry. Juliet Schor, a sociologist at Boston College: “From 1991 to 2007, the number of pieces of apparel people were buying, on average, went from 34 pieces of new apparel a year to 67.” You can be part of the solution by not gifting destructive apparel products.
I hope this guide helps. I encourage you to buy food and food-related gifts that are likely to help reverse climate change. Hopefully they will also inspire the gift recipient to adopt more negative foods habits.
For Your Consideration:
RSFI: Deep Dive into Activating Agroforestry
3 ways Big Food is coming to terms with its climate impact
NRDC: Regenerative Agriculture 101
New Barn Organics Launches Regenerative Organic Certified Pasture Raised Eggs
Australia’s WOA, the ‘World’s Lowest Carbon Milk’, Raises $20 Million
Nestlé switches to 100% renewables (Australia)
True Grace and The Carbon Underground Announce Partnership to Accelerate Consumer Education About Soil Health and the Importance of Regenerative Agriculture
Gen Z and EIT want overhaul of food system to protect planet
Acquiring a Taste for Climate-Friendly Food
The views in this newsletter belong solely to Paul Lightfoot (and not to BrightFarms or other organizations). This newsletter accepts no advertising. Learn more about this newsletter at https://paullightfoot.substack.com/about.
YES, to everything you just said!!! Happy Holidays!
YES, to everything you just said!!! Happy Holidays!