(Family Features) - This April, thousands of people will gather for a special meal. They will come together to share delicious dishes, thoughtfully prepared with the freshest ingredients possible. They'll use local, organic foods such as milk and eggs from a nearby dairy, fresh greens from a farmer's market, perhaps organic chicken or beef.
They'll meet on Earth Day in households and restaurants worldwide for an up-and-coming tradition: The Earth Dinner.
"Earth Dinners are a time to pause and reflect on where our food comes from and how it is grown," says Theresa Marquez, Earth Dinner founder and marketing executive for Organic Valley, the nation's largest cooperative of organic farmers.
Marquez notes that the key to hosting an Earth Dinner is to think about each ingredient on the table. Who grew the food and how? Where did it come from? While fresh, local foods are ideal, don't be afraid to use ingredients from other geographic areas. Featuring organically-grown foods is one great way to celebrate the Earth and take care of it, too.
The strata recipe showcased here uses a variety of organic meat and dairy products, and is ideal for a gathering where food needs to be prepared ahead, since it can be refrigerated overnight until it's ready to be baked.
When planning your own gathering, go to www.earthdinner.org for recipes, party planning tips, ideas, invites, and Earth Dinner creativity cards, designed to spark hours of conversation. If you'd like to host an Earth Dinner fundraiser for your school or community organization, get support and apply for donations from Organic Valley at www.earthdinner.org/support.
For more delicious organic recipes, visit www.organicvalley.coop.