It’s Time to Eat Real, America!

Food Day—October 24, 2011

The foods we choose to eat each day have a huge impact on our long-term health and well-being. We all know this, but we don’t necessarily allow what we know to change our behavior. Did you know that our food choices can heavily impact the world around us? When we purchase over-processed, pre-packaged foods, we’re often looking for the easiest and quickest ways to feed ourselves and our families. We usually aren’t thinking about how the food was produced or how that process could be harmful to farm workers, farm animals or the environment.

Food Day is a grassroots movement seeking to bring people across America together and inspire them to get involved in promoting healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. On Monday, October 24, 2011, people will gather at events across the nation to raise awareness of several food issues and advocate for change. Food Day is organized around six main goals:

  1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.
  2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness.
  3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.
  4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms.
  5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.
  6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.

More Farms, Less Factories

Food day is about eating more food that comes from farms and less food that comes from factories. It’s an opportunity to celebrate real food and to teach people about the benefits of healthy eating, the importance of gardening and farming, and the possibility of moving from a world of nutritional complexity to one of simplicity and balance.

Obviously, choosing the right foods can help us control our calories and weight. But these simple choices actually allow us to do much more than that. When you are more aware of where your food comes from, you begin to understand the importance of seasonality, freshness, sustainability, and the welfare of farm workers and farm-raised animals.

Local Farmers Markets

Making healthy eating choices has gotten more difficult with today’s food industry, pushing more and more products into an already overloaded market. But shopping at a local farmers market is an easy solution. When you purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, you’re not only getting real food that’s more wholesome and tastier, you’re giving your money to a farmer in your own community, and you’re supporting someone who is taking care of the land. If you’re buying organic, you’re also getting the benefits of foods that are produced using “earth-friendly” practices that work in harmony with nature. If you really think about it, with each purchase of farm-fresh, organic food, you’re making an investment in the future of our planet.

If everyone bought just a little more organic food and food from farmers markets, it really could make a big difference in the food industry. These foods may be slightly more expensive than the more readily available processed foods that line the shelves at the grocery store, but they are worth every cent. If you don’t have a local farmers market, try to stick to the perimeter of the supermarket, where the fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and whole foods are, and avoid the center of the store, where the highly processed foods are usually displayed.

The Bigger Picture

Eating right goes a long way toward keeping us healthy, but it’s not enough. Sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture to see what other changes we can make so we can cook meals for our families, using fresh, colorful seasonal ingredients; eat more locally grown, plant-based and whole grain foods; and live better, more environmentally conscious lives. Real food isn’t just good for us nutritionally, it has the power to nourish us and bring us together in community.

It’s all connected. The diets we follow, the foods we grow or buy, the policies we vote on and the impact we can have. Why not find—or create—a Food Day event today? Here are some possible activities:

  • Organize a dinner with friends and/or neighbors using locally grown ingredients.
  • Help your child’s school start a vegetable garden (or make plans for the next growing season).
  • Talk to your mayor or city council about expanding access to local farmers markets.
  • Set up a debate, lecture or rally to discuss agricultural subsidies, animal welfare or farm workers’ rights in your area.

It’s time to get real about food. Go to FoodDay.org and click on Participate to get involved.

Food Day is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog group that has led successful fights for food labeling, better nutrition and safer foods since 1971.

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