Delicious, Meaningful Mealtime with Local, Organic, Seasonal Ingredients and Conversation
Just in time for Earth Day, Organic Valley Family of Farms, America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands, encourages home cooks and renowned chefs alike to host an Earth Dinner by gathering local, organic, and seasonal ingredients to prepare and share with family, friends and neighbors. From spring risotto gussied up with pea tendrils and morels to simple Mexican casserole laced with fresh cilantro, meals are center stage at an Earth Dinner with the earth’s ingredients and the people who harvest, prepare and eat them, as the stars.
The Earth Dinner was launched in 2004 with the idea that Earth Day deserved its own holiday meal, a festive gathering where people could re-forge their relationship with the planet and farmers that provide the food sustaining their bodies and bringing them together with family and friends. Today, Earth Dinner has grown to national and year-round proportions. It is an opportunity not just to eat, but to talk about, learn from, and rejoice in the food the Earth provides. To learn more about The Earth Dinner, visit www.earthdinner.org.
Recognizing that home cooks and potluck supper hosts are especially critical to the Earth Dinner movement, Organic Valley is encouraging people to bring out their bean pots and set their tables at home this spring to orchestrate their own Earth Dinners.
"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 Theresa Marquez, chief marketing executive of Organic Valley. "An Earth Dinner need not be a fancy, formal event. Gathering family, friends and neighbors to share local, organic, and seasonal food is occasion enough to celebrate. What better way to savor the first tastes of spring?"
Depending on where you live, fresh tastes of spring ideal for an Earth Dinner might include buttered fiddleheads, barely steamed asparagus, a simple watercress and mint salad dressed with lemon and sea salt, briny mussels and clams, split pea soup with meaty ham hocks, rustic strawberry rhubarb cobbler dusted with maple sugar, or sunny hollandaise spilling over vegetables, fish or poultry. For earth-friendly ideas and serving suggestions, exclusive regional dishes from celebrity chefs, and organic recipes from organic farmers, go to www.earthdinner.org/recipes and www.organicvalley.coop/recipes.
Organic Valley’s tips for meal planning and inciting meaningful dinner conversation include:
- Ask potluck dinner guests to bring stories behind the recipes they chose, and where the ingredients were grown
- Invite diners at your table to play "If you were an appetizer, what would you be?" as an ice breaker
- Make a seasonal centerpiece for your table, looking to nature for greens and produce. A simple bowl of early peaches or watering can full of pussy willows will instantly set the scene.
- Rosemary, sage, basil, chives and thyme make beautiful favors that can later be transplanted in spring gardens and used in delicious recipes.
Organic Valley also encourages schools and nonprofit organizations to host their own Earth Dinners. To make it easier and more meaningful, Organic Valley has provided a free toolkit for planning an Earth Dinner, also at www.earthdinner.org, which walks Earth Dinner hosts through everything from readings about food and nature, conversation starters, and planning tips.
Also, for non-profits and others hosting Earth Dinners, Organic Valley is accepting requests for support at www.earthdinner.org/support. Types of support include a Silent Auction Kit featuring Earth Dinner Cards, 52 Organic Valley free product coupons and a display poster to merchandise the auction or raffle item. For events with 100 or more guests, request an Organic Valley farmer to speak and inspire the crowd. Small cash grants are available as well as food donations.
To seed the movement in 2004, Organic Valley joined forces with Boston-based Chefs Collaborative, a nationwide network of chefs committed to sourcing and cooking with local, sustainable, and delicious ingredients, to host a series of Earth Dinners at some of the best loved restaurants in the U.S.—from Baltimore to Portland, Boston to Seattle, and New York to Los Angeles. Earth Dinner 2009 restaurant hosts include Chef Cheryl Wallack at Sola Restaurant in Chicago, Ill.; Chef Claire Criscuolo at Claire’s Corner Copia in New Haven, Conn.; Executive Chef Jeremy Tummel at Ciudad in Los Angeles, Calif.; Chef Larry Schepici at Tosca in Troy, N.Y.; Chef Matt Hastings at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth in Burlington, Vt., and many others. A complete schedule of 2009 restaurant-hosted Earth Dinners is available at www.earthdinner.org/events.
The Earth Dinner is supported by a broad-based coalition of organizations including Beyond Pesticides, Bioneers, Chefs Collaborative, Healthy Child Healthy World, Earth Day Network, Earth Pledge, Eco Education, Ecotrust, Environmental Working Group, Heifer International, Slow Food USA, Small Planet Institute, Social Venture Network, OM Organics, The Organic Center, Organic Consumers Association, and Waterkeeper Alliance.
Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,332 farmers in 32 states and one Canadian province, and achieved $527 million in 2008 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie Family of Farms label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative’s farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter, www.twitter.com/organicvalley and Facebook, www.facebook.com/pages/Organic-Valley/20674850824.