Momentum for Food Day Builds as October 24 Nears
Thousands of Events Will Celebrate Healthy, Affordable, Sustainable Food
Food Day, the nationwide grassroots mobilization for healthier diets and improved food policies, is gaining momentum as organizers plan thousands of events big and small on October 24. As the project moves into the home stretch, it has picked up some important national partners, including the Cooking Channel, Epicurious.com, and Change.org, all of which will be publicizing Food Day in the coming weeks and participating in events on the day itself.
Fruit and vegetable marketer Dole will be supporting Food Day by putting Food Day stickers on 100 million bananas, and one of the nation’s largest carrot growers, Bolthouse Farms, will be including Food Day messages on 11 million bags of carrots. The National Archives in Washington, D.C., will host a Food Day open house in conjunction with its What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? exhibit, which examines the government’s role in food policy. Most importantly, a wide variety of grassroots events around the country will focus on issues ranging from improving diets to supporting justice for food and farm workers to developing state and local food policies to celebrating sustainably grown local produce. The events are occurring at all types of venues from churches and college campuses to farms and restaurants to elementary schools, private homes, city halls, and municipal parks.
“One of the best things you can do for your health is to cook and enjoy family meals made with fresh, colorful seasonal ingredients,” said chef and author Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite on the Food Network and a member of the Food Day advisory board. “Food Day is a chance to celebrate the power good food has to nourish us and bring us together.”
Some of the Food Day events being planned around the country include:
• A celebration in Union Square in New York City, in conjunction with Grow NYC’s Greenmarket;
• A large festival in Savannah, GA, on October 22, where organizers expect to draw 15,000 attendees to enjoy healthful regional food;
• The award-winning web site Epicurious will be providing specific regional menu ideas for those interested in hosting their own Food Day parties, and will award prizes for people who raise the most money in honor of the big day via Facebook;
• In downtown Chicago, the advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness is inviting Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, former Mayor Richard Daley, celebrity chefs, and the public to spin a Food Safety Trivia Wheel;
• Statewide Food Day activities in California are being led by the Strategic Alliance, the Prevention Institute, California Convergence, and Roots of Change. They are mounting a statewide petition campaign for smarter federal food and farm policies;
• Following in the footsteps of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Oregon Governor John A. Kitzhaber, M.D., Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Mayors and Governors are issuing proclamations declaring October 24 as Food Day;
• In Seattle, Eat Local Now! is organizing a Food Day dinner for 350 people featuring locally grown food;
• The University of California Hastings School of Law and the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science, and Health Policy are organizing a conference on food deserts and food served at prisons;
• The Denver Botanical Gardens will host a one-day Food Day conference with film screenings and food trucks on October 24, organized by the Colorado Public Health Department, Denver Urban Gardens, Sustainable Food Policy Council, and Live Well Colorado;
• Organizers in Tucson are planning a Progressive Dinner and bike tour along the Santa Cruz River, where Food Day’s six primary goals will be highlighted at the various stopping points;
• The Omaha Farmers Market and the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition will have a large-scale Food Day celebration on October 23, and will give away healthy breakfasts to about 2,000 children; and
• Health departments in Rhode Island, Colorado, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, and elsewhere are spearheading efforts in their communities.
“Food Day is about eating real—which I believe means eating more food that comes from farms, and less food that comes from factories,” said Morgan Spurlock, a Food Day advisory board member who documented the effect of eating at McDonald’s for 30 days straight in his award-winning 2004 film Super Size Me.
Besides events in public places, Food Day organizers are encouraging families to have healthful potluck dinners with friends, and to use these gatherings as opportunities to talk informally about food and our nation’s food system. For inspiration, FoodDay.org will post a number of delicious recipes from well-known chefs and cookbook writers.
"Americans are craving change—they are improving their diets and they want to steer food and farm policies in a more just and sustainable direction,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is providing national coordination for Food Day. “Food Day is a perfect opportunity for groups and advocates to advance their goals, for companies to announce more healthful or sustainably produced foods, and for health departments to launch new nutrition campaigns.”
Food Day’s advisory board, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), includes many of the most prominent voices for change in the food policy world, including urban farming proponent Will Allen, author Michael Pollan, scientists Walter Willett and Kelly Brownell, Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn, former Surgeons General Richard Carmona and David Satcher, executive directors of the American Public Health Association and American Dietetic Association, chefs Dan Barber, Nora Pouillon, Barton Seaver, and Alice Waters, cookbook author Nina Simonds, and others.
“All Americans will benefit from greater understanding and appreciation of food, agriculture and nutrition—spanning the food chain from farm families to family tables,” said Senator Harkin. “Participants in Food Day activities and events will be helping to promote better nutrition and health, lessen hunger and increase access to food, conserve and protect our land and water, and enhance the lives of consumers, farm families, and rural communities.”
Neither CSPI nor Food Day accepts industry or government funding; CSPI’s Nutrition Action Healthletter does not accept any advertising. Food Day will also be funded in part by sales of merchandise from the Food Day online store.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).