I haven’t spent a whole lot of time on this blog discussing food policy the way I originally intended. I’ve gotten caught up in the minutia of recipes and my neverending emotional journey and that’s led me astray from one of my original mission statements which is to facilitate dialogue about our global food epidemic. Yes, epidemic is the right word here. When you see the statistics for obesity balloon to over 30% of the US population with the number of diabetes cases rising in equal measure, there’s a problem. Add to that the issue of food ‘deserts’, GMOs, Prop 37, farm bill, and the negative impact of government subsidies of big agriculture on our recommended diet via My Plate, and we have a serious problem.
There’s an irony here that never fails to surprise me. As the West continues to advance in the areas of technology and communications, our health has declined dramatically. Our access to quality food and produce has been reduced to accommodate a diet high in processed goods, sugar, GMOs, and all sorts of chemical preservatives that do nothing to enhance our health. We’re also sedentary more often than we’re moving. Even now as I’m typing this out, I’m beginning a ten-hour work shift that will see me sitting for about 80% of that time. I’ve made the effort to spend my time outside of the office being active, but how many Americans (or Westerners in general) can say the same? Poor food quality coupled with a less active population has led us to where we are now. What can we do to change this?
Education. Education. Education. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Enter Food Day 2012. The key to any major change, especially in the area of public health, is to help people become aware of what the issues are and then teach them how to make adjustments in their homes on their own. This will hopefully trigger a response that can spread through communities and eventually towns and cities where the message can eventually be heard loud and clear. Food Day 2012 is a prime example of how to accomplish that. With events being held across the country in each state sponsored by individual volunteers, nonprofits, teachers, chefs, celebrities, and businesses, Americans can begin to see what the benefits of having access to affordable, sustainable and locally produced food can have on their health and the economy. This can only help the cause for proper nutrition and improving the state of our food industry by encouraging the public to look deeper, ask questions, and study those labels more closely.
The changes won’t happen overnight, but the important thing to remember is that people want to change. As much of a pessimist as I can be about certain issues, I don’t believe that people are content with the current state of our public health. I believe that there is a desire to make things better. We just need to provide the tools to enable and empower families towards the healthier decisions that will improve their lives and eventually the quality of life in their communities.
I will be celebrating Food Day 2012 by attending the Eat Real festival at Foley Square in NYC, which will not only provide a farmer’s market in the middle of City Hall, but will also showcase the Big Apple Crunch, our attempt to set the world record of apple-crunching! Mayor Bloomburg has made public health and nutrition central to his policy, and despite the criticism, I applaud his efforts to shine a light on major issues that affect each community in this city. I may not be hosting an event today, but by participating in this event and talking about the issues here on this blog, I hope that I’m at least contributing to the overall conversation by promoting change and education. It’s the least I can do.
To check out which events are being hosted in your area, please go to www.foodday.org for listings. If you’re hooked up with all sorts of social media and are in support of the mission statement of Food Day, then please, by all means, use your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram prowess by following @FoodDay2012, liking the page on Facebook, using the hashtags #FoodDay2012 and #EatRight, and posting any pics via Instagram and Flickr of Food Day events in your area or how you’re celebrating at home.
For more information on these issues, please check out Elise’s blog at Enlightened Lotus Wellness. I think she does a great job of providing data and analysis on social food issues and policy.
And since infographics are always a fun and visual way to learn interesting facts, I’ve included this one here about the problems with our food system. My take? This doesn’t have to be the ending to our story. Take the initiative today to step out and try something healthy and new. Take your kids or your friends with you. Make those changes for yourself and you’ll see how powerful that can be today and each day after that. Happy Food Day everyone! 🙂