National Food Day Encourages Eating Real

Today, people across the nation will be celebrating healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.  It is National Food Day, which means that a diverse coalition of food leaders will be organizing events across the country to unify the food movement and improve our nation’s food policies.

Right here in Lane County, The Berggren Demonstration Farm is hosting a class of 7th grade students from Eugene, Oregon. The field trip will be led by staff and volunteers from The Farm to School Program of Lane County as well as staff from the Berggren Demo Farm. They will harvest produce, make a farm fresh meal together, and learn about the importance of wildlife habitat on farms.  The trip will last from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.

The goals of Food Day are:

  • Promote safer, healthier diets
  • Support sustainable and organic farms: Of the $16 billion a year allocated to federal farm subsidy programs, 74 percent of that fund goes to large agri-businesses that contribute to poor health and severe environmental degradation.
  • Reduce hunger: Currently, around 50 million Americans are considered “food insecure”, or near hunger and Oregon ranked in the top five hungriest states for 2012.  SNAP (food stamp) participation is at an all-time high. 
  • Reform factory farms to protect the environment and animals
  • Support fair working conditions for food and farm workers: Many farmworkers earn well below poverty levels, are forced to work when ill and have no access to health care, and are exposed to poisonous chemicals on a daily basis.

What are some things we can do as individuals and within companies and organizations to help meet these goals?  What can you accomplish today?  Here are some ideas- download the Food Day Eat Real book with recipes from some of America’s best chefs.  Or you could take the Food Day Eat Real Quiz.  I was surprised to only get a B when I took it.  I consider myself to be a healthy, conscious eater.  However, I lost a lot of points in two areas:

  • Environment: air and water pollution from manure, fertilizer, pesticides, cattle belching; depletion of groundwater; unnecessary use of land to produce feed grains; soil erosion; over-grazing.
  • Animal welfare: castration, hot-iron branding, de-beaking, de-tailing, cramped cages and feedlots, cattle feed high in grain, and inhumane shipping and slaughterhouse practices.

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