Turkey is almost synonymous with Thanksgiving.  However, if you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time at all, you know that we’ve been saying time and again that most commercially-raised meat simply isn’t sustainable for its virtual water content (if not for any number of other reasons).  So, is gorging on the little gobblers a sustainable choice in the midst of drought?

Well, what is its virtual water content?  Poultry requires about 4,000 liters of water to produce a kilogram of meat, so a 10 pound turkey will need as much as 16,000 liters of water.

The alternative would be to skip the turkey altogether.  I know you’re thinking that your Thanksgiving won’t be complete without the big bird, and some people won’t eschew the turkey.  If this is a one-time binge, and if the turkey will be shared with many other water-conscious people, you’re probably OK (if saving water is your lifestyle, you could afford a one-time cheat).  If you must use a turkey, try to use as much of it as possible so that nothing goes to waste.  What’s to be done?

If you’re having mashed potatoes and stuffing with your meal (and seriously, who isn’t?), you’re probably going to want to serve them with gravy.  Homemade gravy is surprisingly easy, and doesn’t require any unusual ingredients you’re unlikely to have on-hand anyway.   Rather than buy chicken or turkey stock, use the drippings from that slow-cooked turkey.

After the bird has been carved, you’ll probably have plenty of bones left over.  Save those bones (along with the organ meat, if you don’t like cooking it) to make turkey broth or turkey stock for use later.  This recipe is time-intensive, but don’t let that scare you off.  The stock you make can be frozen, meaning that you can make that turkey stock last all year.  You can keep eating hearty soups and gravy for months without needing to make any further virtual water impact than the original purchase.

Finally, remember what Thanksgiving is really about: shared time with friends and family.  Nobody’s going to eat an entire turkey on their own, and nobody wants to still be eating those leftovers by late December.  Shared food is also shared virtual water, so when twenty people each share a small portion of turkey meat, the total liters consumed per person drops.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!