Pixel Tracker

Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 10:28 pm | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Jim Hightower: This Thanksgiving, Create a New Tradition with an Earth Dinner

It means simply to throw some sort of party at which the food is the focus of table talk

Make this Thanksgiving an occasion to celebrate our country’s food rebels!

Yes, rebels. People who dare to challenge the conventional wisdom and try to find a better way for doing something, even with the odds against them and the Powers That Be saying it won’t work.

In this case, I’m talking about the growing movement of small farmers, food artisans, local retailers, co-ops, community organizers, restaurateurs, environmentalists, consumers and others — perhaps including you — who’ve planted and spread the rich ideas of sustainability, organic and local food marketing. This good food movement started at the fringe of our food economy but is now mainstream.

It began as an “upchuck rebellion” — ordinary folks rejecting the industrialized, chemicalized, corporatized and globalized food system. Farmers wanted a more natural connection to the good earth that they were working and to their customers. Meanwhile, consumers began seeking edibles that were not saturated with pesticides, injected with antibiotics and sex hormones, ripened with chemicals, dosed with artificial flavorings and otherwise tortured.

In a remarkably short time, these two interests teamed up to create an alternative way of thinking about food. Rather than altering food to fit industry’s demand for quick profits, they altered the industry to focus on freshness, taste, nutrition and local economies. Today, more than 13,000 organic farmers produce everything from wheat to meat, and organic sales top nearly $27 billion. Some 7,000 vibrant farmers markets operate in practically every city and town across the land, linking farmers and food-makers directly to consumers in a local, supportive economy. Chefs, food wholesales, grocers and school districts are now buying foodstuffs that are produced sustainably and locally.

The shift did not come from any corporate or governmental powers — it percolated up from the grassroots. And it’s still spreading, as ordinary people learn about it, organize locally and assert their own democratic values over those of the corporate structure.

Family by family, town by town, this movement has changed not only the market, but also the culture of food — and that’s a change worthy of our thanks. In fact, why not celebrate it in a special way during this holiday season, or in any season. How? By having an earth dinner.

Not that you’d eat earth. Rather you would gather friend and family around the table for a unique dinner party in which people would not merely consume a bit of (or, a lot of) the bounty of our good, green earth — you would revel in the culture of food.

Most of us don’t realize that our dinner is full of stories, music, art and other expressions of humanity. We are connected to food not only by our tastebuds and tummies, but by our whole selves. To help reawaken those cultural links in a way that can be tasty, touching and fun, the folks at Organic Valley Family of Farms, a nationwide farmer-owned co-op, 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 the focus of table talk, including personal histories, reminiscing, singing, laughing, game-playing and whatever else you can dream up. It can be a potluck dinner, a simple buffet, a five-course gourmet meal, a backyard barbecue — whatever suits you. The key is to know something about the food being served, such as 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. And here’s a nice touch: Ask a local farm family to join the party, or a cheesemaker, local brewer or others involved in producing food. Then, eat, talk, enjoy!

To help get started, 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 providing reports on successful dinners that others have put together. Check it out at www.earthdinner.org, then have a good time!

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.