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Today, a wide range of organizations, public officials, and Americans across the county are marking Food Day, a grass-roots mobilization encouraging people to eat healthy food grown in a sustainable and humane way, and to advocate for changes in U.S. food policy reflecting these issues. Spearheaded by the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, the occasion is being observed in all 50 states at more than 2,000 events.
“The typical American diet is promoting major health problems, causing serious environmental pollution, and unintentionally creating poor working conditions for those who harvest, process, and prepare our food,” noted Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI’s executive director. “It’s time to urge Americans to change their own diets for the better and to mobilize for desperately needed changes in food and farm policy.”
More than 30 governors and mayors have designated Oct. 24 as Food Day, including those in Colorado, Ohio, Oregon, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington. Special Food Day menus will be served in all Detroit public schools, while other schools across the United States are hosting Food Day events as part of the continuing National Farm to School Month celebration. In Washington, the National Archives is presenting a Food Day Open House in conjunction with its “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit. In addition to public events, many people will celebrate Food Day at home with specially cooked meals and conversations about food.
Food Day’s advisory board, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), includes such healthier-food advocates as urban farming proponent Will Allen, writer Michael Pollan, scientists Walter Willett and Kelly Brownell, Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn, former Surgeons General Richard Carmona and David Satcher, and chefs Dan Barber, Nora Pouillon, Barton Seaver, and Alice Waters.
“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,” explained Harkin. “There are differing ideas and perspectives on these issues, and surely we all benefit from discussions about the connections among food, farms and health.”
In honor of the occasion, the Grocery Manufacturers Association made sure to acknowledge the substantial contributions of the food and beverage industry toward food safety and more nutritious fare.
“We are blessed with an abundance of safe, healthy, convenient and affordable food,” said Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO. “That didn’t happen by accident. It happened because of the hard work and ingenuity of the 15 million people throughout the value chain -- our neighbors, our friends and our family members -- who help feed 6 billion people around the world.”
Bailey further noted that food and beverage manufacturers were making it easier for consumers to eat more healthfully by offering healthier product choices, more responsible marketing practices and better nutrition information.
“America’s food and beverage companies are the foundation of our economy,” noted Bailey. “From farm to table, they support more than 15 million American jobs. They provide consumers with safe, healthy, convenient and affordable food. They help feed 300 million Americans and 6 billion people around the world. They donate billions of dollars to alleviate hunger. That is what Food Day is all about.”