As an intern at Organic Valley this summer, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a group of incredibly smart, kind, and innovative interns. We’ve all wholeheartedly embraced the unique culture at Organic Valley, and its cooperative spirit of collaboration and progress.
For such a special group, I knew I needed to host an Earth Dinner. Or in the case of a bunch of students, an Earth Potluck.
For those not familiar with an Earth Dinner, it is a meal that accompanies the celebration of Earth Day. It is similar to other food traditions that accompany Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, the dinner needn’t be held on Earth Day, as long as the food embraces values of sustainability, seasonality, and locality. An Earth Dinner is a way to explore and bring forth the sometimes forgotten connection we have to the food we eat and its effect on the Earth.
Our potluck style version of the Earth Dinner did not disappoint. We enjoyed the juiciest and most flavorful of summer’s watermelon, along with succulent Organic Prairie barbeque chicken. I made a recipe close to my own heart; my mother’s incredible strawberry salad, topped with a sprinkle of Organic Valley’s zesty feta. One of the interns brought his homemade pear and clove kombucha. For dessert we enjoyed delicious banana bread and sweet cupcakes from a local bakery.
Our Earth Dinner experience was more than eating good food, though. My day-to-day life is filled with the distractions of social media and other ephemeral interactions. It felt so good to connect truly and richly with my friends through the act of making and sharing a meal. Other interns expressed similar feelings. Laura, the farm program intern, shared that making a meal is an “investment in making other people happy” and a “physical way to express care.” Mike, the global sales and marketing intern, expressed his enthusiasm for the dinner as a “fun way to support organic foods, and build intern cohesion.” Amy, the inside sales intern, appreciated the “exchange of stories revolving around the dishes, and the way that our different backgrounds made for a diverse night. I’m very glad we took the time to do the Earth Dinner.”
I definitely agree with Amy’s sentiment. The Earth Dinner was a richer experience than I imagined, with respect to both the delicious food and to building relationships with those I care about.