Memo from MFJ
Join Us on Food Day, October 24!
On October 24th, people in every corner of America will be celebrating Food Day. It will be a time for all of us to learn about food issues and to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.
America's "food system" greatly needs that kind of attention. On the one hand, there’s much to celebrate: more organic foods, farmers markets popping up everywhere, the near-extinction of trans fat, and more healthful fresh and packaged foods at supermarkets. Remember when yogurt, tofu, and brown rice were exotic?
On the other hand, think of the obesity epidemic and the thousands of avoidable heart attacks, strokes, and cancers that strike each year. Think of the all-too-frequent food-poisoning tragedies. Consider that people in many low-income communities have no convenient access to produce.
Meanwhile, the huge industrial-scale farms, which garner the bulk of farm subsidies, use enormous amounts of energy and water and pollute our land, rivers, and air with excess fertilizer and pesticides. Cattle feedlot operators and many poultry and hog farms also despoil the environment with mountains and cesspools of excrement, while housing the animals in torturous conditions. And the workers who plant and harvest much of our fruits and vegetables or process meat and poultry suffer miserable working conditions. (See the recent, terrific book Tomatoland.)
to solve these problems, but I felt that it would benefit us tremendously to work together, building on one another's strengths—and educating everyone from kindergarteners to government officials. Food Day aims to catalyze greater, faster progress by encouraging nutritionists to work with environmentalists to work with anti-hunger activists to work with food-justice advocates. CSPI created Food Day to advance the whole “food movement.”
It's thrilling to see Food Day explode from an idea into a full-fledged national event. Some people will celebrate quietly with a potluck dinner at home with friends (and maybe talk about healthy diets). Others will join big gatherings or conferences in New York City (Union Square), Savannah, and on campuses from Stanford to Rhodes College to Yale.
Even some restaurants and businesses are involved. Thanks to Bolthouse Farms and Dole, the Food Day logo is on 11 million bags of carrots and 100 million bananas. The Food Network/Cooking Channel, Rodale Inc., and Epicurious.com are publicizing Food Day to their huge audiences.
Food Day has also been helped greatly by an advisory board of inspiring people. The board is co-chaired by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, and includes the executive directors of the American Public Health Association, American Dietetic Association, and Farmers Market Coalition. It also includes Robert Lawrence, Marion Nestle, Alice Waters, and Walter Willett, whom we interview in this special Food Day issue.
I hope that you will host an event at your home, school, or house of worship, or join an event already planned in your community (see the map at FoodDay.org). You can also (commercialism alert!) buy a Food Day T-shirt, cap, or tote bag from the Food Day online store.
And remember: Eat real!
Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D.
Center for Science in the Public Interest
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Look for Michael Jacobson's column on the Huffington Post.
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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is the nonprofit health-advocacy group that publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter. CSPI mounts educational programs and presses for changes in government and corporate policies.