Thousands Embrace Earth Dinner

New Meal Tradition Connects Us to Where Food Comes From

Apr 05, 2006, 01:00 ET from Organic Valley Family of Farms

    LAFARGE, Wis., April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- As America heads towards its 36th
 celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, a new meal tradition that connects us
 to where our food comes from is being celebrated in restaurants, farms,
 schools, socially responsible businesses, non-profits and family homes from
 San Francisco to New York.
     "Last year, in two months over 16,000 people visited the Earth Dinner
 website and downloaded Earth Dinner creativity cards," said Theresa Marquez,
 the organic food pioneer who founded the Earth Dinner to help people see the
 link between our food and our environment. "This is an idea whose time has
     Called the "Earth Dinner," family and friends are encouraged to come
 together at least once a year and know the "story" behind their food.  These
 thoughtfully prepared meals are like a traditional Thanksgiving Day feast, but
 specifically feature foods that are locally grown and organically or
 sustainably produced. Participants learn every food's story -- how it was
 produced, where and by whom -- as well as the role food has played in the
 lives of everyone gathered around the table.
     "Seventy percent of the earth's resources are used in the production of
 our food. We can protect the earth with every bite we take," said Marquez.
     Use Celebrity Chef Recipes for Your "Earth Dinner"
     It's easy to host an Earth Dinner, thanks to the tips offered at .  The site features special menu guides and
 regional recipes by five 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 restaurants
 hosting public Earth Dinners in cities nationwide. These chefs and restaurants
 are all members of Earth Dinner partner Chefs Collaborative, a national
 organization of chefs and other food community professionals dedicated to
 advancing a more sustainable food supply.
     "Earth Dinner Creativity Cards" are available to use as a free-form dinner
 table game.  Written by award-winning author Douglas Love
 ( ), 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.  For planning tips, sample Earth Dinner cards,
 recipes, or to purchase a collector's edition of the deck, visit .
     The Earth Dinner 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.
     --  "Imagination" makes players turn on their creative thinking -- e.g.,
         pretend you're an earthworm running for public office!
     --  "Inspiration" digs deeper, encouraging participants to explore their
         personal links to nature, hope and deeper food issues.
     Visit to download free samples of the cards, or
 to purchase a full deck ($10).  Organic Valley, the organic farmers'
 cooperative which is presenting Earth Dinner, 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
     Earth Dinner: A Tribute to Farmers
     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,
 who also serves as Consumer Affairs Director at Organic Valley
 ( ),  the 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
     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 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 .

SOURCE Organic Valley Family of Farms