It’s time to eat real, America!
I think of that every time I walk through the nutritional minefield that is a modern supermarket. Whole aisles filled with junk—with some of the junkiest at a child’s eye level. And I think of food-related environmental problems when I drive to the country and see huge, windowless sheds that house tens of thousands of chickens and farms that use huge amounts of precious ground water, energy-intensive fertilizer, and pesticides just to grow crops that will be fed to animals.
To help Americans protect their health and the environment, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is organizing a nationwide grassroots event to help fix our country’s broken food system. Luminaries ranging from chefs Alice Waters and Dan Barber to Senator Tom Harkin and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), former Surgeon General David Satcher, and (ahem) Maria Rodale, are guiding this effort along with nearly 100 partner groups. I invite you to join the campaign by participating in Food Day on October 24.
(People with long memories, and some gray hair, may remember the first Food Days that CSPI sponsored back in the mid-1970s. I remember how the “food establishment” laughed at us for encouraging organic foods! Things have come a long way since then, for better and for worse.)
How is our food system broken?
- The typical diet is the opposite of what Surgeons General have been encouraging us to eat.
- Relying on packaged foods requires the production and disposal of tens of billions of cans, bottles, and boxes every year.
- Even young children are encouraged to consume sugary cereals, fast foods, and sugary drinks that pave the way for obesity.
- The way our food is produced all too often is harmful to farmworkers, the environment, and farm animals.
What we eat should bolster our health, but the average current diet in fact contributes to several hundred thousand premature deaths from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer each year. Massive use of fertilizer and pesticides on huge monoculture farms squanders precious resources, pollutes the air and water, and promotes global warming. What’s more, typical “concentrated animal-feeding operations,” or CAFOs, condemn farm animals to spend much of their lives in filthy, crowded confinement.
Food Day aims to inspire people to celebrate healthy, delicious eating and to solve their communities’ food problems. At FoodDay.org, you can discover such events springing up from coast to coast—vegetable tastings in kindergartens, large gatherings in public parks, and the development of sensible new food policies in city councils and state legislatures. Already, events are being planned by health departments in Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Seattle; by schools in Seattle, Tulsa, and Washington, DC; and by farmer’s markets from Tallahassee to San Francisco.
Food Day 2011 is focusing on six key solutions:
- Reducing diet-related disease by promoting healthy foods
- Supporting sustainable, organic farms and limiting subsidies to big agribusiness
- Expanding access to healthful food and alleviating hunger
- Reforming factory farms to protect animals and the environment
- Curbing junk-food marketing to kids
- Supporting fair working conditions for farm and food workers
Food Day hopes to unite and energize the food movement just as Earth Day has done for the environmental movement. But we know that a single day will not instantly fix our nation’s food policies, so Food Day will really be an ongoing campaign that is celebrated annually.
I’m grateful to Maria for letting me introduce Food Day to her readers. I hope you will join me and countless other Americans in planning Food Day events at your college, church, school, hospital, or health department. Or simply celebrate Food Day with a delicious homemade dinner or potluck made with locally grown, organic ingredients—and talk about how to eat healthier diets and influence food policies.
I hope you will check FoodDay.org for events scheduled near you and tell us your ideas for celebrating healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.