(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2008) Earth Day, traditionally celebrated by the United Nations on the spring equinox, became a U.S. national holiday proclaimed by Senators Gaylord Nelson and John McConnell on April 22, 1970. It is a time to celebrate our planet, and all the life giving natural resources and beauty that the Earth provides and which we too often take for granted.
Most memorable holiday traditions involve family, friends, and of course, food. Building on this idea, the folks at the Organic Valley Family of Farms Cooperative joined with environmental and sustainable agriculture organizations to develop the Earth Dinner celebration. In developing the Earth Dinner idea, the organizers wondered, “Why doesn’t Earth Day have a tradition?” The Earth deserves a celebration too, and it made sense that an Earth Day tradition should revolve around local, sustainable and organic cuisine, and especially meaningful discussion about the impact farming has on the environment.
- Buying foods grown and distributed locally supports the local farmers, allowing them and their families to stay on the land.
- Buying foods that were grown using sustainable agricultural practices protects the soil and environment in countless ways.
- Going organic ensures that you are feeding your loved ones foods that are free from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, as well as the added knowledge that the animals were treated with respect and care throughout their lives.
Since its inception in 2004, Earth Dinners have been hosted around the world””from Anchorage, Alaska to Western Australia. Top chefs around the country put their touch on the annual dinner in restaurants from Seattle, to Detroit, to Bozeman to New York City. Amateur chefs and home cooks did the same thing in their living rooms, at their kitchen tables, on patios and decks, in community centers and parks- gathering friends and family around tables laden with local and organic fare.
The Earth Dinner website provides lots of valuable information to help you host your own dinner and to make the evening more fun and meaningful. The site offers advice on planning a dinner at home, on campus and for kids. It offers “Earth-friendly” recipes and downloadable Earth Dinner cards, designed to spark stories and memories of the foods and people we love, and perhaps to inspire new thinking about the foods we choose everyday.
Earth Day Action: Help keep resources available for farmers transition to organic. Currently, a provision in the House-passed Farm Bill,and other substitute language now floating around, stops the U.S. Department of Agriculture from curtailing hazardous pesticide use through its conservation programs, either by targeting specific contaminants that are poisoning water or hurting wildlife, or facilitating a transition to organic practices. Ask your elected officials to get this provision and similar language out of the Farm Bill!