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Wednesday, May 2, 2007 10:01 pm

Earth dinner

Here’s a way to celebrate the culture of food

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Untitled Document What’s for dinner at your place? How about having an earth dinner? No, it’s not about eating dirt; instead it’s a gathering to celebrate the bounty of our good green earth. Most of us don’t realize that our dinner tells many stories, embodying our personal histories, family memories, music, art, and other connections . . . besides our tummies. To help reawaken those cultural links in a way that can be tasty, touching, and fun, the folks at the Organic Valley Family of Farms have come up with the novel idea of earth dinners. The concept simply involves throwing some sort of dinner party at which the food is not merely consumed but also is the focus of table talk, reminiscing, singing, laughing, game-playing, and whatever else you can dream up. It can be a potluck dinner, a buffet, a five-course gourmet meal, a backyard barbecue . . . whatever suits you. The key is to know something about the food being served — where it comes from, the history of some of the ingredients, songs written about it, and so on. The goal is to get everyone connecting in some personal or cultural way to the dinner as it progresses. Ask guests to tell about their very first food memory or to recall any family member who was a farmer or a jolly cook. Invite people of diverse backgrounds and all ages. Ask a farm family, or a cheesemaker or others involved in producing food, to join you. Then — eat, talk, enjoy! Organic Valley’s Web site offers a sort of earth-dinner starter kit, with tips on everything from menus to party favors, as well as provide reports on successful dinners that others have put together. Check it out at www.earthdinner.org — and have a good time!
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.
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