Food Day Aims to Fix Broken Food System
Health, Animal Cruelty, Environmental Pollution, Farmworker Justice Among 2012 Priorities
The American diet does more harm than it should to human health, the environment, to food and farm workers, and to animals raised for food. That's why the second annual Food Day aims to use October 24 to raise consciousness on these and other food-related issues and inspire Americans from all walks of life to take action.
On an interactive map at FoodDay.org, more than 1,600 events have already been scheduled nationwide in schools, on campuses, and in government buildings, parks, and fairgrounds. Film screenings, debates, educational programs, and other activities will encourage people to learn about the health and environmental impact of their food choices, hunger and food access, corporate treatment of restaurant and farm workers, and the treatment of factory-farmed chickens, pigs, and cows.
The Humane Society of the United States will observe Food Day by releasing an animated short film that highlights the mistreatment of pigs. "A Pig's Tail" is designed to introduce children to the harsh realities of industrial farms. The film was animated by the makers of "Chicken Run" and "Wallace and Gromit" and features voice actor James Arnold Taylor and actress Catherine Taber of the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
Another filmmaker, Anna Lappé, working with watchdog group Corporate Accountability International and a range of other partner organizations, will hold an event in New York City on October 24, as well as dozens of screenings nationwide, to promote "Food MythBusters," an initiative that takes aim at "Big Ag's billion-dollar PR machine."
"The American public has long been presented a false choice between growing food sustainably or feeding the world," said Lappé. "It's time we put such a pervasive myth to rest so that our communities can more effectively work to create a food system that serves human needs over corporate profit."
Despite problems in the food supply, organizers of Food Day, which is spearheaded at the national level by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, say that there are reasons to be optimistic that when Americans agitate for change, they can change corporate practices. CSPI cites the organizing efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which recently secured the commitment of fast-food chain Chipotle to participate in the farmworkers' Fair Food Program. The burrito giant now became the 1lth major restaurant chain to commit to buying tomatoes from sources that pay fair wages and treat workers humanely. Nonprofit groups also are winning battles to get trans fat out of the food supply, get sugary drinks out of schools, and pass laws requiring that farm animals are raised humanely.
One way Food Day is helping educate Americans about the health, environment, and animal welfare consequences of their diets is by promoting its Eat Real Quiz, which prompts people to share their grade on Facebook and Twitter. CSPI is also sponsoring a contest for the best short film depicting sodas or other sugary drinks being poured out—into toilets or elsewhere. And just yesterday CSPI released an animated short film with an original song by Jason Mraz showing an animated family of polar bears dumping out soda.
"Americans are craving change, both in their own lives and in their communities," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "All over the country Americans are planning on standing up to big food companies and demanding better corporate practices and government policies. It's time to stop ruining our health and polluting the planet with a food system that is unjust, unsustainable, and not nearly as healthy as it should be."
Food Day is also bringing together leading thinkers on nutrition, agriculture, and economics at a landmark conference in the United States Capitol Visitor Center to forecast what the food system might look like by the year 2050.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are honorary co-chairs of Food Day. Its diverse advisory board includes Growing Power founder Will Allen, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics CEO Pat Babjak, author and filmmaker Laurie David, Los Angeles Health Director Jonathan Fielding, actress and health advocate Jane Fonda, former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, Rodale Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale, cookbook author Nina Simonds, chef Alice Waters, and World Food Day founder Patricia Young.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).