1. Compost Pail
It’s easy to compost just about anywhere with this odor-absorbing pail. (It really does contain the stink!) Perfect for apartment-dwelling friends or family members for whom every inch of counter space is precious. Don’t think of it as giving your loved ones garbage for the holidays. Instead, think about how you’re helping them turn their food waste into brown gold. For an extra-special something, throw in compostable bags.
2. Slate Cheese Board
Bring the outdoors in with elegant and versatile slate serving boards from Brooklyn Slate Company. Available in red or black, these gorgeous, nonporous natural rock sheets come from a family-owned quarry in upstate New York. Dishwasher- and food-safe, the cheese board comes with a soapstone pencil that lets you write on it, combining a clever conservation-minded serving platter with an excellent conversation piece.
3. CSA Share
Give your much-loved locavore the gift of fresh, seasonal produce. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) lets you buy a share in a local farm, often for a season or a year, and receive fresh produce weekly in return. CSAs build relationships with farmers, support local agriculture, and, when shareholders visit the farm, can be educational, too. Local Harvest offers one of the most comprehensive directories around; check it out to find a farm near you or your recipient.
Price: Varies, from $200 a year
4. Wine-of-the-Month Club
When the holidays end and we return to the routine, there’s often an accompanying sense of disappointment. This year, prevent that for one of your loved ones with a gift that gives year-round: membership in a wine-of-the-month club that offers organically grown wine. The best option is to choose a winery whose wine you’ve sipped before; lack of sulfites—how many of these vintages are made—can really affect taste. For a sure bet, wrap up a bottle of Maysara Pinot Noir McMinnville Estate Cuvee or WilliaKenzie Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley 2009, both from Oregon and both highly rated by Wine Spectator.
Price: Varies for clubs; $25–$38 for bottles
5. The Food Matters Cookbook
The home chef who has it all may not actually have The Food Matters Cookbook, the most recent effort from writer Mark Bittman, who formerly penned “The Minimalist” column for The New York Times. The book, which features what Bittman dubs terrific, less-meatarian recipes, proves that eating more plants doesn’t have to be boring. With 500 recipes, even the biggest carnivores won’t mind getting their roughage. Before you know it, your gift receiver may just follow Bittman’s lead—cooking like food matters.