Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day, created by CSPI , is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24, the goal being to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies. Join this push for a stronger, more united food movement by signing up to organize or attend Food Day events in your community.
The foods we enjoy should promote, not undermine, our good health . Most Americans feast on salty, overly processed packaged foods; high-calorie sugary drinks that pack on pounds and rot teeth; and fast-food meals made of white bread, fatty factory-farmed meat, French fries , and more soda still. Such junky diets promote obesity and tooth decay, as well as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. It’s time to eat real and cut out (or down on) the junk and replace it with the good stuff.
Support Sustainable Farms & Limit Subsides to Big Agribusiness
Uncle Sam has long been generous to farmers, or at least some of them. All sorts of subsidies have been developed, such as payments to farmers when crop prices are low; payments regardless of whether a farmer grows anything at all; and a subsidy for crop insurance.
Below are a few facts about the U.S. subsidy programs:
Between 1995 and 2009, direct subsidies totaled some $246 billion, or about $16 billion per year.
Just 10 percent of large farms rake in 74 percent of direct subsidies – with the top recipient getting $4.8 million in 2009.
Meanwhile, the average payment to 80 percent of the farms receiving the smallest subsidies was only $572.
Most direct farm subsidies go to growers of just five crops: corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, and rice
Expand Access to Food & Alleviate Hunger
Some 50 million Americans are “ food insecure ” or near hunger, and about 11 percent of the poorest Americans without cars live in “ food deserts ”—where people are beyond walking distance to the nearest grocery store. Deep-seated social problems, such as poverty, unemployment, and crime, contribute to these problems, and solving them will require a variety of approaches. Education, community-engagement, job programs, and increasing the availability of healthier foods would all help. For starters, it is critically important to help eligible people take full advantage of Food Stamps (SNAP), school meals, and other federal anti-hunger programs.
Each year, filling the 310 million American stomachs requires about 9 billion chickens and turkeys, 114 million pigs, and 34 million cattle. The vast majority of those animals are no longer produced on picture-book farms, but on huge “ confined animal feeding operations ” ( CAFOs ), or factory farms. A single egg farm might house well over a million hens, and a large feedlots up to 50,000 cattle. Those operations cause a multitude of problems, including:
Harmful gases that pollute the air and water are emitted by livestock manure. Those gases are some of the largest sources of air pollution in the United States .
Antibiotics added to animal feed may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.
Over-fertilization and water quality of farm fields result in polluted rivers and streams, as well as “deadzones” in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay.
Inhumane treatment of the workers and animals of factory farms, slaughterhouses, and processing plants occur all too often.
Soil erosion as a result of farming practices leads to irreversible damage caused when plants do not hold the nutrient-rich topsoil. Its loss reduces soil fertility and requires increased use of chemical fertilizers.
Grain-fed beef is high in fat, which promotes heart disease. And eating any beef and pork, especially processed meats , may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
Natural resources are used up for the functioning of factory farms. On average, about one-third of a pound of fertilizer, 1,900 gallons of water, and seven pounds of grain are required to produce one pound of beef.
The soaring rate of childhood obesity—tripling since 1980—has rung the warning bell for health experts and parents alike. In fact, some experts predict that the current generation will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. The sad thing is that kids are actively encouraged to eat unhealthy foods and rarely prompted to eat healthy foods. Most of the foods marketed to kids are mediocre fast foods, sugary breakfast cereals, and candies. Many of them are based on white flour, sugar, fat, and salt, plus a sprinkling of artificial colorings and flavorings . Food companies use some of the most advanced neuromarketing techniques to get inside children’s developing brains and encourage them to prefer those disease-promoting foods.
Support Fair Conditions for Food & Farm Workers
Few consumers who chew on a bright red apple or dig into a juicy steak think of the workers who grow, harvest, and process that food. Even worse, federal labor protections, such as minimum wages, overtime pay, and mandatory breaks for rest or meals, are not provided to farm workers and workers of poultry and meat processing plants. Slaughterhouses and processing plants sometimes operate 24 hours a day, where some 500,000 workers kill and process hundreds or thousands of animals each hour in hazardous conditions. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has separate and more relaxed standards for those work environments. Too many workers endure terrible working conditions, suffer higher rates of injury, are subject to long-term exposure to pesticides, and have fewer legal protections than just about any other workers.
Click here for more information about Food Day events in your community and how you can get involved