The Earth Dinner isn’t just for organizations putting on big events. At home is where the Earth Dinner concept began, at Founder Theresa Marquez’s big kitchen table and with a simple question: How can we help eaters know where their food comes from?
The answer? It starts at home around your own kitchen table, surrounded by friends and family of all ages, from children to grandparents.
Here’s how to start!
1. Learn about the three tenets that make a dinner an Earth Dinner.
2. Download a copy of the Earth Dinner booklet, containing planning tips as well as provocative questions and quotes to inspire meaningful conversation.
3. Download our handy-dandy Earth Dinner Toolkit. The customizable materials in the toolkit can be used as decorative posters, invitations, conversation cards, seating cards and more. Be creative!
1. Decide what kind of dinner you want to have. Will you invite guests to a special dinner party or potluck, or will it be with your family around your everyday dinner table? Either way provides a wonderful excuse to take a time-out from our busy, electronic lives to sit down around a table full of good food and have a real conversation.
2. Plan your menu. Use as many local, seasonal and organic ingredients as you can. Know the story behind as many ingredients and recipes as possible. Don’t know the story, or can’t use local/seasonal/organic? That’s totally ok. Know that story too, and use it to challenge your guests to think about why this was an issue and how they could work to fix it!
If doing a potluck, pass this info on to your guests so they can be prepared to speak about their dish, or bring a card listing this information to place next to the dish.
3. Plan your decor. This part is super fun, and remember, anything goes! You could go all out or keep it simple. Ask your guests to participate by bringing a meaningful item to display on the table, or have them bring an item or two from nature to cooperatively decorate. Get the kids involved with coloring placemats and setting the table; making the centerpiece out of found items, items from nature, or fruits and vegetables; and/or assembling guest gifts to place on each plate (a bean soup or cookie “recipe-in-a-jar” is always a hit!).
4. Choose your questions. There are a few different ways we’ve observed people using the conversation questions successfully:
- Put the books on the table and have guests flip through and ask questions at random. (Pros: Less prep work. Lots of questions/quotes to cater to many interests. Cons: Books may get food on them, though whether this is actually a ‘con’ is entirely up to you.)
- Choose specific questions and quotes and print them to display on the table or on posters (see Toolkit). (Pros: Customize the conversation around specific issues, easier to manage cards around the food. Cons: A little more prep needed.)
- Make up your own and print them out on Toolkit materials!
Final tips and ideas to make your Earth Dinner amazing:
- Involve multiple generations, if you can. This is a wonderful time to educate children while reminding older guests of the wisdom and beauty held within a child’s innocent worldview. (Don’t have kids or grandparents? Consider borrowing them 🙂 This is a nice opportunity to positively influence a child’s view of food and farming and hear stories from the older generation’s perspective.
- Keep it simple. Don’t stress out about your Earth Dinner. Whether small or large, your family and friends are going to think it’s a wonderful, unique and meaningful event.
- Have fun!! No explanation needed.
We’d love to hear from you.
Please share your at-home Earth Dinner experiences in the comments below, or email us a picture and story of your Earth Dinner and we may feature it here on Rootstock!