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From April 15, 2005

This Earth Day, Host An Earth Dinner: Connect people to the Earth, their food and each other
(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2005)
If your favorite food could win an Oscar, what would be its acceptance speech? Who in your life really understands how to make the food you love? Do you know the name of any person who grows the food you eat? These are just three of 107 questions people of all ages will be asking one another this Earth Day (next Friday, April 22nd) as they take part in The Earth Dinner, a new way to celebrate the life-giving natural resources and beauty that the Earth provides—something too often taken for granted!

"The Earth Dinner is a way for family and friends to come together to appreciate the remarkable role food plays in our lives, in our family's histories and on our planet," said Theresa Marquez, the catalyst behind The Earth Dinner. "How and what we eat determines the health of the Earth."

As people across the country host their own organic Earth Dinner next week, hosts are encouraged to download “Earth Dinner Creativity Cards." The deck is made up of 50 beautifully designed cards that can be used as a free-form dinner table "game" that keeps dinner guests focused on the theme of the meal. Each one has been written by award-winning author Douglas Love to spark stories and memories of the foods and people we love, and inspire new thinking about the foods we choose everyday.

The Earth Dinner Creativity Cards are divided into four suits: Storytelling, Imagination, Inspiration and Fun Facts.

  • One of the Storytelling cards asks guests to "describe the very first time you tasted something that you picked off a tree, vine, stem or pulled out of the ground."
  • Fun Facts covers everything from "who invented the fork?" to the number of times the average human burps in a day and how long it takes a hen to lay an egg.
  • A sample Imagination card challenges guests to pretend they're a worm running for public office. "What would your platform be?"
  • Under Inspiration, we're invited to think about why we use a tree metaphor to trace our family genealogy. In your immediate family, who would you consider to be the roots, the bark, or the fruit?

Connecting to the Stories Behind Our Food

The host of an Earth Dinner asks each guest to bring an dish to share, potluck style. Each dish provides an opportunity to talk about its origins—a family recipe book, a local organic farm, a backyard garden. Guests are encouraged to use local, organic ingredients, so foods are fresh and flavorful, and to do their best to find out about where the food came from and how it was grown.

"The Earth Dinner is designed first of all to connect us with our own wonderful and unique food traditions. And second, to help us connect with the farmer, the real force behind the food we eat. It is very satisfying, to make the effort to know where our food comes from—even if only once per year—and to celebrate that knowing," said Ms. Marquez, an organic pioneer who serves as Director of Consumer Affairs at Organic Valley Family of Farms.

The Earth Dinner is presented by Organic Valley Family of Farms, an organic farmer-owned cooperative committed to re-awakening the connection between organic farmers, the people who produce food with care, and their urban neighbors, the people who depend on quality food for their well being. The Earth Dinner is supported by a broad-based coalition of organizations including: Beyond Pesticides, Bioneers, Chefs Collaborative, Children's Health Environmental Coalition,. Earth Day Network, Earth Pledge, Environmental Working Group, Music Matters, Slow Food, Organic Consumers Association, Social Venture Network, The Center for Organic Education and Promotion, and Waterkeeper Alliance, among others.

For menu and recipe ideas, suggestions for setting the table and decorations, and your own set of Earth Dinner cards, please visit www.earthdinner.org.