Modeled after Earth Day, Food Day is an annual, nationwide event celebrated on October 24 with the goal of bringing food that is healthy, sustainable, affordable, and fair to the plates of all Americans. As we usher in the fall season symbolizing change and transition, perhaps it is no coincidence that Food Day calls for mobilization and change within our food system. Created by the nonprofit nutrition advocacy organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day pushes the most pressing food-related issues of our time to the forefront. As noted by author and food activist Michael Pollan, “Food Day is an opportunity to celebrate real food and the movement rising to reform the American food system.”
Specifically, Food Day’s platform focuses on the following:
- Promoting safer, healthier diets
- Supporting sustainable and organic farms
- Reducing hunger
- Reforming factory farms to protect animals andthe environment
- Supporting fair working conditions for food and farm workers
In 2011, its inaugural year, Food Day featured more than 2,300 events, big and small, in all 50 states—ranging from food festivals and film screenings to town hall debates and cooking demonstrations at farmers’ markets. In recognition of last year’s Food Day, Tufts University invited Mayor Thomas M. Menino to speak on his vision and efforts for a healthier Boston, including the city’s Bounty Bucks program and his push for getting rid of soda and reducing junk foods in schools. Important to Food Day’s success are collaborations such as these engaging key stakeholders and forming impactful partnerships. Specifically, Food Day collaborates with a broad range of organizations such as state departments of agriculture and health, schools and universities, non-profit organizations, food banks, faith-based organizations, and hospitals.
Improving food policy through state, local, and federal initiatives is one of the main goals of Food Day. One step in this direction was taken when Food Day was officially “put on the map,” or shall I say, “on the calendar” with more than 80 governors and mayors proclaiming October 24 as Food Day. Governor Deval Patrick declared October 24 Massachusetts Food Day and, as shown, got his hands dirty at a Food Day event promoting Massachusetts’ rich agricultural industry. The mayor of Salt Lake City and the city’s Food Policy Task Force hosted a community forum on Food Day, in which food policy experts discussed the 2012 Farm Bill and its impact on local food sustainability.
Another big push for Food Day is to form partnerships with schools to engage children on these important issues. In this vein, Food Day collaborated with professors at Teachers College who developed a unique Food Day school curriculum targeted for upper elementary and middle school grades. The engaging five lesson plan was designed to teach children to “Eat Real,” “Mostly Plants,” “Not Too Much,” and how to “Navigate the Environment.” Kids across the nation were engaged in Food Day 2011. An elementary school in South Anchorage, Alaska held a taste test comparing locally grown carrots to out-of-state carrots and to no surprise, the locally grown carrots were voted to taste superior by a two-to-one ratio. Food Day also collaborated with the Real Food Challenge who organized a “photo petition” with students declaring that they “Eat Real Because…” followed by their own unique personal responses. Other schools created “Junk Food Halls of Shame,” which highlighted junk foods heavily marketed to children.
With Food Day right around the corner, it still isn’t too late to celebrate the day devoted to what the Friedman school is all about–FOOD. We all know that John Mayer may have said it best when he declared nutrition an agenda and not a discipline. And Food Day does just that!
Source for photos
Alison is an incoming USDA Doctoral Fellow in Obesity with the John Hancock Research Center. Along with her love for good-tasting, healthy foods (and getting others to enjoy it too!), she is an avid runner and will be running in the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of this month. Wish her luck!