Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Food Day is Launched so America Will Be Healthier by Eating Healthier Foods

Battery Park farm. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

 Aren't you disgusted with all this healthy eating this and vegetarian that and comments like "fried foods promote high cholesterol," and "high-fructose corn syrup contributes to causing diabetes," and "preservatives in foods make you gain weight," and "wheat and flour products cause allergies?" And those self-righteous vegans? They look so pale and wan; they are practically cellophane!

It's enough already! We know how to eat right. What if we don't want to? Besides, junk food tastes tremendous, especially when we're stressed and we need some chocolate or chips and dips to calm down. So just back off green, healthy food movement!

Then sickness slithers into our bodies and Dr. Oz becomes our healthy eating guru as we self-administer daily blood sugar checks because we have diabetes. Or we enroll in Weight Watchers for the 13th time because of a fatty liver, or worse, have to go for gastric bypass. Or much worse, we never make it to the next day, dying from a silent heart attack (happened to a female relative of mine who ate what she wanted, as she wanted without thinking about it because she was only 15-20 pounds overweight).

Why not prevent the sickness to begin with? If we have to change our eating habits, "following doctor's orders" after we're sick, why not do it before we get sick? That's what "Food Day" is all about.

The first Food Day celebration was October 24, and most likely the celebration will continue every year from now until many of us choose bananas over donuts, exchange potatoes for sweet potatoes and scarf down a handful of raw cashews or other nuts instead of a candy bar. (Did you know that nuts have enzymes and important trace elements?)
 According to Food Day organizer and vegetarian Ellen Kanner for the Huffington Post, Michael Pollan, Ellie Krieger, Alice Waters, Morgan Spurlock showed up to party for the event that was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and backed by Slow Food USA and other standup food, farm and green activists and organizations. The intention of Food Day was to bring further awareness and remembrance that the industrial food complex of factory farms is a power to itself because sustained governmental regulatory enforcement and control is difficult if not damn near impossible.
With increasing e-coli and salemonella outbreaks, genetic engineering of animals and once natural produce and the manic search for profits, the food industry grinds down the consumer to its will. Food Day, modeled on Earth Day, is the initial symbolic attempt to  "take back our food system and remind us it's possible to eat in a way that isn't whacked." (Kanner, Huffington Post) 

The hope is that like Earth Day, which inspired the Clean Air Act, the creation of the EPA and other initiatives, Food Day with its national emphasis and "get-out-in-the-street" non virtual activism will change America's eating habits, grow healthier adults and children and eventually force the industrial food complex to bend to the public's will, not the other way around.

Stone Barns garden at Pocantico Hills. Photo by Carole Di Tosti

Food Day's slogan is, "It's Time to Eat Real, America."(Elaine Murphy, Green Answers)
Highlighting the purpose of the event, the Food Day website lists six objectives for the event, including tips and health facts. But it is also a long range vision for America. The six objectives are combined here.
  • Combat dietary disease by promoting healthy foods, and stop food manufacturers from marketing junk food to children.
  • Ensure that healthy food is available to more people and that less people suffer from hunger.
  • Support sustainable farmers and agriculture and reduce subsidies given to large agricultural businesses, support fair wages and comfortable standards for agricultural workers, and revolutionize factory farms to protect animal welfare. 
Protecting the environment and animals by reforming factory farms and supporting fair conditions for food and farm workers indicate not only a national but an international  reach. (Food Day)

The Food Day celebration is over for this year. But "Food Day" is every day because we need to eat and our choices, in the long term, may establish whether we grow into old age gracefully, or rage and battle illness as our choices may have determined. Of course, we don't know to what extent this may be true and can laugh it off as a lot of baloney. On the other hand, we don't know the long term impact of additives and other hidden dangers  in the food industrial complex's products or move toward genetic engineering animals and produce, yes, everything that grows.

For that reason, sitting back and letting others choose for us is not an option because of what we do know about the ethics of the "others." We do know that the food industry and all of its sub parts (factory farms) are governed by profit motive. We do know that government regulation and enforcement are woefully inadequate.

On the other hand, we do know that we, as consumers, have "the power of the purse." If we stop buying various products with large amounts of corn syrup, additives and salt, the message will be sent to the food industry. As Lidia Bastianich said in a recent conference/festival, demand your grocery stores or green grocers or butchers to have fresh products, including a selection of pesticide free produce and free range, grass-fed hormone-free animals. If you've learned about a product and don't see it in the store, ask the manager to get it for you.

We have a right to choose. Has the food industry really given us enough viable, healthy choices? Or are we just here to serve their agendas?

Food Day, its sponsors and many others, have already answered the latter question with a resounding, "yes." But they also believe the food industry and factory farms can reform their practices because we consume their products and they want us to buy what they sell. If we no longer want to disregard the hidden dangers and harm related to how they are servicing and producing the food we eat, and we show them and tell them by not buying, they will respond.

If you agree, on the Food Day website, you can sign a petition to congress which outlines the above goals. The food lobby is only as powerful as we allow it to be.

No comments: