How to Give Sustainable Gifts From One Food Lover to Another

by FoodPrint


The holiday season isn’t the only time we give gifts, but the pressure is certainly on during the month of December to BUY and GIVE. Gift giving can be a more thoughtful and less commercial process. And it can certainly be done in a more sustainable way that doesn’t produce a lot of waste or unwanted presents. Use these tips now, or at birthday time, or any time you feel like showing someone you are thinking about them! And don’t forget: research shows experiences bring more happiness than stuff.

Cook Somebody a Special Meal

Invite someone over for a special feast. Or, if getting out of the house is tricky for them, head right to their home and cook it onsite (and clean up afterward). For some people, cooking is a mysterious skill or something they feel they cannot make time for. The gift of your time and culinary chops could be just the thing. Consider designing the menu around foods you know they love or dishes you’ve heard them praise. Pro tip: this is a great way to use up the potatoes, cabbage and winter squash or other food you have in abundance in your kitchen.

Give a Homemade Food Gift

Use reusable containers like canning jars to make gift-sized portions of sustainable foods, like fair trade cocoa hot chocolate mix, homemade pickles and preserves, organic granola or spice blends. Check out the slideshow to get some inspiration.

Teach Somebody Something

Do you have an enviable skill in the kitchen? Has the person you’re looking to give a present praised your abilities with dumpling making, pizza wizardry or tamale wrapping? Make them a gift certificate for one culinary lesson with you. If you slip in some pointers on cooking with a lighter foodprint, then all the better!

Make a Donation in Somebody’s Name

Make a monetary contribution to an organization that is helping create a food system that is better for the environment, animals, farmers, food workers and eaters. There are so many wonderful organizations out there. Some of them include:

  • Detroit Black Community Food Security Network: Addressing food security for the Black community in Detroit, through urban gardens and farms, as well as local food policy.
  • Farm Aid: Supporting family farmers, good food, soil and water, and strong communities.
  • Food & Water Watch: Championing healthy food and clean water for all.
  • FoodCorps: Connecting kids to healthy food at school, through hands-on learning in the garden, classroom and cafeteria.
  • Land Loss Prevention Project: Providing legal support and assistance to limited resource farmers and landowners in North Carolina.
  • Real Food Challenge: Shifting $1 billion (20%) of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and unhealthy food and towards local & community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food sources.

Gift a Subscription to a Food Website or Online Magazine

There is some truly wonderful food journalism being produced right now. For people generally interested in food, these sources are an incredible way to learn more about our food system and how to improve it. Some have subscriptions (digital and/or paper) available for purchase, and some are nonprofits that accept donations to continue their great work. Here are a few examples. If you’re not already reading them, you should be — maybe it’s time to give yourself a gift!

Give Something to Grow

Buy the gift of seeds from a nonprofit seed savers organization, or simply donate so they can continue their important work. What do seed saving organizations do? They preserve the biodiversity of food-producing plants and often the cultural context in which these plants were bred. In a world where crops are selected for higher production and not higher quality, this work preserves flavors we would otherwise lose. Some examples include Seed Savers Exchange, Native Seeds/SEARCH and Hudson Valley Seed Library.

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