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 come." 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 http://www.earthdinner.org . 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 ( 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. For planning tips, sample Earth Dinner cards, recipes, or to purchase a collector's edition of the deck, visit http://www.earthdinner.org . 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 http://www.earthdinner.org 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 communities. 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 ( http://www.organicvalley.coop ), 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 Alliance. 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 http://www.organicvalley.coop .
SOURCE Organic Valley Family of Farms