Some people shrug off Earth Day as a tie-dyed hippie holiday. But former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970 to educate and engage college students in solving environmental problems of the day —  from oil spills to air pollution.  Today, Earth Day is celebrated across all ages with a universal goal of protecting our precious natural resources.

No matter what our politics, race or religion, we all have a stake in looking out for Mother Earth. As Robert F. Kennedy Jr.  says: “There’s nothing radical about clean air and water. Good environmental policy is good economic policy; if we destroy nature, we impoverish ourselves.”

(c) Organic Valley

(c) Organic Valley

Protecting Mother Earth makes good business and ecological sense, but there’s more good news. When we love our Mother, she loves us back with delicious, nutritious food.

Take the recent research from Washington State University which showed that whole organic milk is nutritionally superior to conventional milk.  By providing cows the diet Mother Nature intended – grass – they provide us with milk containing significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  These naturally-occurring fats give us protection against cancer, heart disease and inflammation.

As  a dietitian, I recommend choosing organic food to support  those farmers who go the extra mile to understand and respect  the interdependent relationships between soil microbes, pasture, animals and human health.

For me, Earth Day is a mix between “Mother’s”  Day and a spring-feverish Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s a  mix of  gratitude, celebration and service, as well as a friendly reminder that our Mother needs our respect.

This Earth Day, take your Mother’s advice: go outside and play. Hike through the woods, plant a garden, take your kayak for a spin.  Then, at your Earth Dinner table,  share the words of author Sandra Steingraber:  “What we love, we must protect.”