Set The Table, It’s Food Day

Today, October 24, is the first National Food Day, a day of celebration that will occur every year on this same date. The Food Day initiative “seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.” Sounds like something we should all get behind, doesn’t it?

Food Day aims to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for universal access to healthy, affordable, sustainably produced food.

Food Day aims to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for universal access to healthy, affordable, sustainably produced food.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are the Honorary Co-Chairs for Food Day 2011, and the day is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog group that has led successful fights for food labeling, better nutrition, and safer food since 1971. Like CSPI, Food Day is people-powered and does not accept funding from government or corporations.

Thoughtful decorations for a Fall Gathering Dinner Party at an elementary school. The organizers connected the school garden to the school food program and made soups and salads from scratch.

Thoughtful decorations for a Fall Gathering Dinner Party at an elementary school. The organizers connected the school garden to the school food program and made soups and salads from scratch.

Instead, Food Day has partnered with some great organizations and is backed by an impressive advisory board that includes anti-hunger advocates, physicians, authors, politicians, and leaders of groups focused on everything from farmers markets to animal welfare to public health. But, the organizers say, “the most important ingredient in Food Day is you.” For a few months they have invite people, communities, restaurants, supermarkets and non-profits to organize an event and help make Food Day a success. There were events all over the country, most notable a sit-down dinner in the middle of Times Square in New York City. Food world notables like Marion Nestle, Mario Batali and Morgan Spurlock were in attendance, as well as Food Day founder Mike Jacobson. Above the dinner table, the message of the day loomed large on a billboard on the side of one of the buildings surrounding Times Square. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Marion Nestle, Morgan Spurlock, Mike Jacobson & Mario Batali at the Food Day event in Times Square.

Marion Nestle, Morgan Spurlock, Mike Jacobson & Mario Batali at the Food Day event in Times Square.

Food Day banner in Times Square.

Food Day banner in Times Square.

Dinner soon the be served in the middle on bustling Times Square.

Dinner soon the be served in the middle on bustling Times Square.

Food Day is also asking Congress to support their six basic principles (read more about them by clicking the links below):

1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
The foods we enjoy should promote, not undermine, our good health. Most Americans feast on salty, overly processed packaged foods; high-calorie sugary drinks that pack on pounds and rot teeth; and fast-food meals made of white bread, fatty factory-farmed meat, French fries, and more soda still. Such junky diets promote obesity and tooth decay, as well as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. As many as several hundred thousand Americans die prematurely every year due to what we eat, with medical costs running well over $100 billion. [more]

2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
Uncle Sam has long been generous to farmers, or at least some of them. All sorts of subsidies have been developed, such as payments to farmers when crop prices are low; payments regardless of whether a farmer grows anything at all; and a subsidy for crop insurance. Between 1995 and 2009, direct subsidies totaled some $246 billion, or about $16 billion per year. Included in that total are some wiser subsidies, such as ones that pay farmers not to farm on erosion-prone land. [more]

Food Day volunteers in Washington, DC.

Food Day volunteers in Washington, DC.

3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
Some 50 million Americans are “food insecure,” or near hunger. Deep-seated social problems, such as poverty, unemployment, and crime, contribute to that problem, and solving the problem will require a variety of approaches. Education, community-engagement, jobs programs, and increasing the availability of healthier foods would all help. For starters, it is critically important to help eligible people take full advantage of food stamps, school meals, and other federal anti-hunger programs. [more]

4. Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
It’s time to reform factory farms and make life better for workers, animals, and nearby residents. The size and location of confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, should be strictly regulated to reduce air and water pollution. Consumers can accelerate reforms by purchasing less meat, eggs, and dairy foods from factory farms. [more]

Kids are actively encouraged by advertisers to eat unhealthy foods and rarely prompted to eat healthy meals. They want and deserve better.

Kids are actively encouraged by advertisers to eat unhealthy foods and rarely prompted to eat healthy meals. They want and deserve better.

5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
The soaring rate of childhood obesity—tripling since 1980—has rung the warning bell for health experts and parents. With junk foods and junk-food advertising, everywhere, we should not be surprised that kids are gorging on inexpensive, tasty, and often unhealthy foods. Pizzas, burgers, fries, snack cakes, and sugary drinks. Look at those foods and you’re looking at a future of ever more obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. [more]

6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers Few consumers who chew on a bright red apple or dig in to a juicy steak think of the workers who grow, harvest, and process that food. At the better farms and factories, workers enjoy safe conditions, decent salaries, and union representation. And thanks to citizen pressure, companies’ voluntary adherence to stronger standards, and government intervention, that has become more common. But still too many workers endure terrible working conditions, suffer higher rates of injury, and have fewer legal protections than just about any other workers. [more]

It’s time to Eat Real, America! Let’s start by making a delicious, nutritious, home-made, organic dinner tonight.

Photos via Food Day’s Facebook page.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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