Food Day Campaign is Launched!

Thousands of Events on October 24 Will Encourage Americans to "Eat Real"


Many of the most prominent voices for change in the food movement and a growing number of health, hunger, and sustainable agriculture groups today announced plans for Food Day—a nationwide campaign to change the way Americans eat and think about food. Organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day will encourage people around the country to sponsor or participate in activities that encourage Americans to "eat real" and support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.

Food Day will be observed on and about Monday, October 24, 2011, and will likely include a series of marquee events in Washington, New York City, San Francisco, and other major cities, and thousands of smaller events around the country.

"Food Day is designed to further knowledge, understanding, and dialogue about critical topics in food, agriculture, and nutrition—spanning the food chain from farm families to family tables," said Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and an honorary co-chair of Food Day. "The many activities and events spurred by Food Day will help foster a robust dialogue on how to promote better nutrition and health, lessen hunger and increase access to food, enhance opportunities for farm families and rural communities, and conserve natural resources. There are differing ideas and perspectives on these issues and surely we all benefit from discussions about the connections among food, farms, and health."

Modeled on Earth Day, organizers hope Food Day will inspire Americans to hold thousands of events in schools, college campuses, houses of worship, and even in private homes aimed at fixing America’s food system. A Food Day event could be as small as a parent organizing a vegetable identification contest at a kindergarten class—or as massive as a rally in a city park, with entertainment and healthy food. Health departments, city councils, and other policymakers could use Food Day to launch campaigns, hold hearings, or otherwise address communities’ food problems.

The campaign will advocate progress toward five central goals:

• Reducing diet-related disease by promoting healthy foods. The American diet is too low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and too high in fatty meat, soft drinks, and salty packaged and restaurant foods—contributing to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year due to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

• Supporting sustainable farms and stopping subsidies to agribusiness. Billions of federal dollars a year would be better spent helping environmentally conscious family farmers than huge agribusiness operations.

• Expanding access to food and alleviating hunger. Far too many Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from, or have access to fresh produce in their neighborhood.

• Reforming factory farms to protect animals and the environment. Farming of animals can and should be done without cruelty, and without degrading the quality of life in rural America.

• Curbing junk-food marketing to kids. Food companies should not be targeting children with foods that promote tooth decay, obesity, and other health problems.

"Food Day will bring together a lot of people with common interests in food issues, but who otherwise haven't worked all that closely together," said Michael F. Jacobson, who founded CSPI 40 years ago. "So whether your primary concern is human health, farm policy, or the quality of life in rural America, Food Day can be an opportunity to start solving local and national food problems from the ground up."

Besides Jacobson, Food Day is led by honorary co-chairs Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and an advisory board that includes author Michael Pollan; prominent physicians Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Roizen, and David Satcher; nutrition authorities Walter Willett, Kelly Brownell, and Marion Nestle; public health expert Georges Benjamin; and chefs Dan Barber, Nora Pouillon, and Alice Waters. National organizations, such as the American Dietetic Association, American Public Health Association, Community Food Security Coalition, Earth Day Network, Farmers Market Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Prevention Institute, and Slow Food USA, along with many city- and state-level organizations, are planning on organizing or participating in Food Day events.

"Why Food Day? It is time to make real food the number-one priority in our country," said Alice Waters, proprietor of the acclaimed Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. "The choices we make about food affect our health, the health of the planet—and the way we live our lives."

"Food Day is an opportunity to celebrate real food and the movement rising to reform the American food system," the author Michael Pollan said. Soon, will let people type in their ZIP codes to find Food Day events near them—or to invite people to create their own Food Day events. 

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