Food Day 2011 Will Attempt to Get America to ‘Eat Real’


Since 1981, World Food Day has come around every October to increase awareness and understanding of hunger, and promote actions to alleviate it. But its scope is just so planetary, so mindful of countries that don’t suffer from an overabundance of junk food, subsidized corn, and diabetic third-graders. And so, taking up where Jamie Oliver left off, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has invented Food Day 2011, an event created just for Americans.

Scheduled to take place on October 24, a week after World Food Day, Food Day comes armed with a tagline that seems designed to reassure Americans that policy wonks, intellectuals, and Alice Waters aren’t food police intent on confiscating our salt and Twinkies. “It’s Time to Eat Real, America!” declares the Food Day website, sounding like a friendly but firm Jenny Craig counselor.

The principles of Food Day, which bills itself as “a nationwide campaign to change the way Americans eat and think about food,” are as follows:

– Reduce diet-related disease by promoting healthy food.
– Support sustainable farms and stop subsidizing agribusiness.
– Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.
– Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms.
– Protect health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.

Its advisory board includes the Berkeley Bowl dream team of Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, and Josh Viertel, as well as an impressive array of senators, congressmen and -women, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, nutritionists like Marion Nestle and Walter Willett, World Food Day founder Patricia Young, and — hello! — Jane Fonda.

The Food Day website offers no specifics about how Food Day will enact its mission to “change the way Americans eat and think about food,” aside from “encourag[ing] people around the country to sponsor or participate in activities that encourage Americans to “eat real” and support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.” One hopes such encouragement will be accompanied by a radical shift in government policy, since so many of our problems stem from the cozy relationship between politicians and Big Ag, not to mention cuts in funding to services designed to help the poor, insufficient health care, and the untold corporate dollars directed toward marketing crap to kids and encouraging all of us to eat as much Cheesy Bites pizza as possible.

If Food Day can effect real and meaningful change, then more power to it, but if its efforts are rooted largely in asking citizens to “promote” healthy eating, then one wonders what, exactly, it will accomplish. Hopefully, in the months leading up to Food Day, the CSPI will provide more specifics about how personal idealism will be reinforced by organizational might. Otherwise, Food Day could end up looking like Jamie Oliver’s community kitchen.

[Via Serious Eats]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 13, 2011

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