Typically when couples, organizations and significant historical events reach an anniversary that ends in a big, fat zero, there is a big, fat party with lots of food. Tomorrow, even though she’s technical somewhere in the vicinity of 4.5 billion years old, planet Earth is basking in the sunlight of the 40th anniversary of her national day of recognition: Earth Day. So where’s the food in this celebration?
Back in 2003 folks involved with one of the largest organic family farm cooperatives, Organic Valley based in La Farge, Wisconsin, came up with an idea that — like Thanksgiving with all its culinary trimmings — Earth Day too should have an Earth Dinner, a meal that helps conserve natural resources by including foods that adhere to three principles:
• They are local, because buying local foods helps the local family farmers stay on their land.
• They were grown using sustainable farming practices because they protect the soil.
• They are organic because that label dictates those foods are free from pesticides.
The idea caught on and the organization has reported that thousands of Earth Dinners were held across the country last in 2009. These events were not all held on April 20th at the end of a community river bank cleanup. Rather, they were held year round and in conjunction with events like weddings, master chefs’ challenges in major metropolitan areas and potluck suppers and charity events, and even the most All-American of holidays: Thanksgiving.
The idea has picked up so much momentum that the organization produced a practical guide on pulling together an Earth Meal. The 30-page Earth Meal Guide includes invitations and posters, suggestions for an earth friendly themed party decor, recipes and party games that can help focus the dinner conversation around sustainable food topics.
The Earth Dinner project now enjoys the support of a coalition of organizations comprising 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.
According to the organization’s web site, there are no events along these lines currently being planned in the Central PA region. But if the idea sparks an interest, the following is a list of resources that can help you locate sustainable food in the area:
Buy Fresh, Buy Local (South Central PA chapter)
Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture
Certified Naturally Grown
PA certified organic – PA Department of Agriculture