LA FARGE, Wis., March 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Join the growing movement of Americans who will celebrate the arrival of Spring this year by hosting an Earth Dinner(TM), a new tradition that gathers friends and loved ones around the table for a fresh, seasonal meal made from local, sustainably produced ingredients and conversation that connects us to our food, the earth and each other. In celebration of Earth Day, April 22, Organic Valley Family of Farms, an organic farmer-owned cooperative, has partnered again with Chefs Collaborative, a national organization of chefs and other food community professionals dedicated to advancing a more sustainable food supply. Organic Valley and Chefs Collaborative share the same philosophies of using local, sustainable, seasonal and/or organic ingredients. Their common goal is to create a new holiday tradition of gathering family and friends around the table for Earth Dinner -- much like Thanksgiving, but with a focus on meaningful discussions on food. Make it simple or make it splendid! From a potluck dinner to a masterful multi-course presentation -- any style works for an Earth Dinner. The key is to know the story behind the food -- its origins, how it was grown, where it came from, and who grew it. "The Earth Dinner gives us 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, Earth Dinner Founder. "How and what we eat determines the health of the earth." Earth Dinners will take place in New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other locations all over the country -- in restaurants, homes, schools, businesses and community centers -- from the Spring (Vernal) Equinox on March 20th through Earth Day on April 22nd. Tips on how to host an Earth Dinner are available at http://www.earthdinner.org . The site also offers special menu guides and regional recipes by five Chefs Collaborative celebrity chefs, including Greg Atkinson (Pacific Northwest), Bruce Sherman (Midwest), John Ash (California), Robert Stehling (Southeast) and Gordon Hamersley (Northeast), as well as a list of Chefs Collaborative restaurants hosting public Earth Dinners in cities nationwide. "Earth Dinner Creativity Cards" are available to use as a free-form dinner table game. Written by award-winning author Douglas Love ( http://www.douglaslove.com ), each of the 49 cards in the deck sparks stories about the foods and people we love, and inspires new thinking about the foods we choose every day. The cards come in four suits. "Fun Facts" is great for kids and asks questions like "who invented the fork?" "Storytelling" asks guests to share memories, such as the first time they tasted a food they picked themselves. The "Imagination" suit makes players turn on their creative thinking -- e.g., pretend you're an earthworm running for public office! The "Inspiration" suit digs deeper, encouraging participants to explore their personal links to nature, hope and deeper food issues. Visit http://www.earthdinner.org to download free samples of the cards, or to purchase a full deck. Organic Valley will donate all proceeds from the sale of Earth Dinner cards to the Organic Farm Friends Foundation, a program fostering a strong connection between rural organic farmers and urban communities. Each of the foods served during an Earth Dinner provides an opportunity to talk about its origins -- a family recipe book; a local organic farm; a backyard garden. Cooks try to use local 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. "Making the effort to really know where our food comes from gets us in touch with the farmer, the real force behind the food we eat," said Marquez, Consumer Affairs Director, Organic Valley and Founder of The Earth Dinner. Organic Valley ( http://www.organicvalley.coop ) is 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 (CHEC), Earth Day Network, Earth Pledge, EcoEducation, Ecotrust, Environmental Working Group, Heifer International, Om Organics, Slow Food USA, Social Venture Network, The Organic Center, and Waterkeeper Alliance. For menu and recipe ideas, suggestions for setting the table and decorations, and Earth Dinner cards, please visit http://www.earthdinner.org . Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer Owned Organic Valley Family of Farms is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents nearly 750 farmers in 22 states and realized a record $245 million in 2005 sales. Focused on its founding mission of keeping small and mid-sized farmers farming, Organic Valley produces 200 organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce, juice and meats which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. For more information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit http://www.organicvalley.coop . About Chefs Collaborative Chefs Collaborative is a national network of more than 1,000 members of the food community who promote sustainable cuisine by celebrating the joys of local, seasonal, and artisanal cooking. While celebrating the pleasures of food, Collaborative members recognize the impact of food on our lives, on the well-being of our communities, and on the integrity of the global environment. Founded in 1993, Chefs Collaborative is the only culinary organization that provides its members with tools for running economically healthy, sustainable food service businesses and making environmentally sound purchasing decisions. For more information, visit http://www.chefscollaborative.org .
SOURCE Organic Valley