04/07/2009 07:05 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's Do Big Lunch

A UK group has come up with the idea that 61 million Britons need to sit down and do lunch together on July 19 - in their own neighborhoods, using food they made or grew themselves.

It's a little like Slow Food comes to a picnic table in your front yard. The organizers of Big Lunch - the Eden project headed by Paul Twivy - want people to get together and talk about the problems of our times, and if nothing else, to see where common ground exists. And to have fun.

Big Lunch says UK street parties tend to have around an 80% turnout rate. So the chances for success in generating a lot of people for Big Lunch is high. The organizers are hoping for at least 6 million - about 1 in 10 of the British population.

Why this is so important is that local community needs the act of breaking bread and swapping rhubarb recipes to nourish it. The flip side of the extravagant growth of social networking is that connection over the Internet isn't necessarily bringing better connection in the streets where we live. BBC research says 97% of British communities have become more fragmented in the last 30 years.

Secondarily, argues Big Lunch organizer Tim Smit, it's time for us to realize the role agriculture has to play in cutting overall CO2 emissions in the next 40 years.

Victory gardens and container gardens are two great ways to do this, as is a more concentrated use of public spaces for food growing. Farmscrapers may be considered by some to be a pie-in-the-sky idea, but Smit says turning available spaces into public growing areas is of vital health and knowledge to our populations.

Now that the White House has gotten in on the act and planted its own garden, it might just be time for the Big Lunch idea to spread over the Atlantic to U.S. shores.