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Lifting the Lid

Old Memories & New Organic Traditions - Celebrating Holiday Food

December 20, 2011 | Amy VanHaren

See our Stonyfield traditions here

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
-- J.R.R. Tolkien

The holidays have always been a big favorite of mine. They always arrive with a feeling of warmth. From the very first sight of white lights against a night sky or Blue Spruces bouncing on a car roof it only takes a few signs of season to get me excited. While I have always loved the gathering of my family and friends--and the special pajamas and wrapping of presents (my mother taught me a few special tricks of the trade!)--as the years have gone by it is the food I've come to look forward to the most. And not just the frosted sugar cookies or peppermint desserts…it is the association of the food with people and traditions that is so wonderful. The taste of meals made from scratch. The new edition of recipes and dishes as well as the old.

For while food has always been a big part of our Christmas festivities, the food itself has changed. My siblings and I have brought our own flavors to the brunch and dinner table. We've formed new favorites and changed a palate (and opinion) or two over the years.

My addition to our updating feast has been to incorporate organic. I've chosen to consider my ingredients with greater care -- from learning where each item comes from to selecting options based on availability and the little USDA organic seal. Sometimes bringing organic to the holiday party is a challenge; it's more expensive and harder to locate. It requires more work. But the pay-off has never been more rewarding. Not only does my family talk about organic while we eat, but they also take away a tidbit or two…a piece of food knowledge along with their spoonful of butternut squash soup. That's a true gift.

For me, knowing that I've fed everyone well makes the season that much warmer and the white lights on the trees outside just that much brighter.

So in the spirit of this, I've asked some of our Stonyfield staff to share two personal thoughts this holiday season: when I say "food" and "holidays" what comes to mind?, and what is one way you incorporate organic into your holiday menus and celebrations? Read on to hear their stories and please share your own! I'd love to hear from you.

When you hear "food" and "holidays" what comes to mind?

I always think about being at my grandparents' home with all the great holiday aromas - nothing like it!! - Kathy Apgar

Baking cookies! It's not the holidays until I hear Frank Sinatra crooning about Silver Bells and I'm icing my 3rd batch of sugar cookies. Everyone in my family has their favorite cookie and I bake them all. - Laura Stanton

Baklava.Fragile sheets of filo dough on butcher block counters, layered with butter, rolled around walnuts with cinnamon and clove. Citrus scented simple syrup warms on the stove, waiting to finish the batch hot from the oven, crackling. My great grandmother is ever-present. - Jesse Baines

Spending time with lifelong friends, catching up, sharing stories and laughing; taking a well needed moment to enjoy life. - Kally Abrams

When I was little and I would decorate the cookies my mom would bake with her...and okay, maybe I ate some of the cookie dough batter as well! - Amy Peterson

What is one way you incorporate organic int your holiday menus and celebrations?

Making lobster stew! It's one of the easiest meals to put together for a big group in a sustainable way. All of the organic ingredients are easily found at the grocery store, and you can feel good about supporting your local lobster fisherman. - Jesse Baines

Picking a common holiday dish and giving it an organic makeover. Not only is the dish healthier for me with no toxic pesticides and hormones but also in my opinion, it tastes so much more delicious! - Amy Peterson

Using lots of fresh, organic veggies and yogurt dips - a great, nutritious alternative to cookies and candy! - Kathy Apgar

Offering my guests healthy pre-feast snacks like organic fruit, cheese, crackers, dips & beverage choices. The main course, a free-range bird, is surrounded by steamed organic vegetables and a hearty stuffing. The family favorite dessert, chocolate pie, is made with fair-trade organic chocolate, free-range eggs, and organic cream; accompanied by organic coffee and tea choices. It's heavenly! - Kally Abrams

I incorporate organic foods into every aspect of my holiday menu! 'Tis the season of butter and I never ever buy anything else but organic butter. The quality is incredible and brings an appreciable difference in the taste of everything I bake and slather with it. I feel slightly less guilty indulging in butter when I know that lots of healthy omegas from grass grazing cows are in that yellow square of organic yumminess. Vodka is on my organic wishlist. I will consider it a personal triumph when I can mix up a 100% organic Cosmopolitan. I Imagine a world with organic cocktails and leave the peace & love to John Lennon : ) - Laura Stanton

Your turn…share your own stories below!

Enjoy the food and cheer and have a wonderful holiday season…


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