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Hi all, this is our last alternate newsletter for 2010! I love Christmas and everything that comes with this time of the year, holidays, sun and relaxation. Not forgetting the Christmas food and the abundance of it. See below on how to tackle the perils of under eating! We also look at how to green your Christmas with trees, cards and gifts as well as helping you out with a comprehensive South African website dedicated to Christmas. Happy holidays!!
Wickedfood will be closing on the 15th of December and reopening on the 10th of January with the first class commencing on Wednesday the 12th. Keep an eye on the schedule to find out whats happening in the new year. Click here.
Wickedfood Cooking School News
Our January individual cooking class programmes are up on the internet. Click the link for the appropriate month – January
Green ideas for your Home?
Green your Christmas by urbansprout.co.za
In 2008, scientists at the Stockholm Environment Institute reported that the carbon footprint of Christmas – including food, travel, lighting, and gifts – was 650 kg per person in England.
In 2008 consumers in the UK consumed approximately 10 million turkeys, 25 million Christmas puddings, 250 million pints of beer and 35 million bottles of wine. The UK spends £20bn on Christmas, with £1.6bn going on food and drink, of which approximately 230,000 tons of food worth about £275 million is thrown away. Let’s face it, Christmas is a nightmare holiday when it comes to the environment.
Another large contributing factor to the carbon footprint of Christmas is the miles that food, gifts, decorations and the like travel to reach you. By reducing the distance that these things travel, you can reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas. Supporting locally made gifts, locally grown food, local wine, locally made decorations and travelling locally are all ways to help the environment, and won’t cost the earth, literally.
The Great Christmas Tree Debate
According to Christmastree.org, Americans bought 28 million real Christmas trees last year, and spent 11 million dollars on fake trees. Whilst in the UK, consumers bought 7 million real Christmas trees in the 2008 festive season. Is chopping down real trees better than buying a fake one made of plastic?
Here are some of the reasons why a real Christmas tree is better for the environment than a fake one:
- Real trees are grown here, fake ones are shipped in from China
- Most artificial trees are made from metals and plastics
- Fake trees are not better for the environment
- Fake trees are not biodegradable
- Real trees are a little poor on biodiversity, but can be recycled
However, the Christmas Tree Association advocates that an environmental study has found that using an average artificial Christmas tree has a smaller carbon footprint than a consumer using an average farm-grown Christmas tree. The idea is that buying and using an artificial Christmas tree over ten years reduces one’s carbon footprint (if you can find a tree that lasts that long).
The best option in South Africa, is to buy an indigenous tree in a pot, and plant it in your garden, or in a public area if you don’t have a back yard, after Christmas. If you’re a business and you really want to earn brownie points, contact Greenpop or Food and Trees for Africa and purchase a tree, which they can plant in under-greened areas.
Another idea is to use a dried tree, branch or flower stalk (like a massive agave or sisal stalk after it has flowered and died) to hang Christmas decorations from. We’re using our old tree tomato (they’re quite short lived) that croaked last year. It is stuck in a 20l painters bucket full of sand to hold it upright and will be draped with Christmas lights and homemade decorations.
In some ways one misses the nostalgia of receiving letters and Christmas cards, but on balance, it is better for the environment to send an e-card or an email. Every year approximately 750,000 letters are sent to Santa by children, and that’s just in the UK.
Several billion ordinary Christmas cards are sent out every year. That’s a lot of paper and air miles. But you don’t have to sacrifice the celebration of Christmas to make it sustainable. Send Christmas ecards:
World Land Trust
Friends of the Earth
Or buy charity, recycled or locally made Christmas cards instead of imported ones.
Green gift ideas
Once one starts actively looking, it isn’t difficult to find great local gift ideas. Making local markets your main source of gifts is really a lot of fun. It does entail a little more planning, it’s true, and leaving it for the last minute is probably not going to work in your favour, but there are many local Christmas markets now in cities in South Africa and you can easily give overcrowded shops, playing overzealous music a skip! Have a look at our guide to the Christmas Markets happening around the country.
Another idea for present (and waste) minimisation: put the names of all the family members attending the traditional lunch in a hat and draw one person to buy a gift for, rather than trying to buy a present for everyone that often is far from anything they really want. You’ll save both money and the environment.
When buying gifts try and buy gifts that are eco friendly, or come from a sustainable source:
What to avoid:
- Plastic, PVC, or unsustainable goods
- Overly packaged items
- Anything made from endangered wood
What to buy:
- Durable gifts (quality, long lifespan)
- Think less materialistically – see below for a list of ideas
- Support the little guy – avoid big brands and supermarket chains
- 2nd-hand (books, clothes, CDs, antiques, local markets)
Awesome website of the week:
Holiday Eating Tips
I hate aspects of this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it’s the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining 20 kilos.
1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnogaholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later then you think. It’s Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other peoples food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Years, You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 5 kilo plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa. Position yourself near them, and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can’t leave them behind. You’re not going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day ?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean have some standards, mate.
10. And one final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner.
The Wickedfood Team
Wickedfood Cooking School runs classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cooking lessons are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our cooking courses are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes, these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.