Food Policy Think Tank Announces National Food Day in October


[Photograph: Food Day]

One of the strongest voices in food policy is the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a D.C.-based group that takes a scientific approach to crafting a better food system. Last week, the CSPI launched a new project that brings together a variety of organizations and individuals and unites them around some basic tenets of healthy eating. Drumroll, please: Food Day, 2011.

The idea of having a day dedicated to thinking about food systems isn't new—in fact, a similar event has happened every year on October 16 since 1979. World Food Day is sponsored by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, and takes place in over a hundred countries worldwide. The emphasis of WFD's events has historically been focused on international food security and hunger.

So why create another Food Day?

Well, the event's website doesn't quite address why this Food Day is a separate event. However, it is clear that Food Day's emphasis is on American eating habits and issues, rather than the global phenomena. The goal is "nothing less than to transform the American diet," by addressing these five prongs of food consumption and production:

Reduce diet-related disease by promoting healthy food; support sustainable farms and stop subsidizing agribusiness; expand access to food and alleviate hunger; protect animals and the environment by reforming factory farms; promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.

These are all admirable goals, to be sure, and ones that the advisory board members Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, David Kessler, and Dan Barber (among many others) have long encouraged. Yet it still has me curious—how exactly will Food Day address these sweeping, multifaceted, highly political issues?

According to this press release, the organizers expect that Americans will host their own Food Day dinners, education programs, rallies, and so on. The idea is that the more individuals get involved, the closer we'll come to institutional change.

So, how should we "promote" healthy foods? Sure, we can support sustainable farms but what steps are being taken to stop subsidizing agribusiness? What "reforms" should we emphasize when examining factory farming?

I applaud efforts to empower the consumer but hope we'll hear more from the CSPI and other organizations about concrete efforts as October 24 nears. I'm not so sure that Food Day's objectives are outlined clearly enough at this point. Do you think you'll participate in Food Day? Got any ideas for getting people involved?