Monday, October 24, 2011 is Food Day, but Charlie Arnott, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, notes that every day is food day. "We want to continue to promote access to abundant and affordable food, which comes from many systems," he says. "And consumers have the right to expect farmers , food companies, restaurants and grocery stories to act responsibility."
Speaking with Farm Progress last Friday ahead, Arnott notes that the variety of foods and the good nutrition offered is available from any grocery store; and the consumer has the choices available to pick food that is consistent with their values and their budget. "People may have a different set of values, and that's OK, we celebrate all of those," he notes.
Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day's honorary co-chairs include Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. The event is backed by a variety of anti-hunger advocates, physicians, authors and a wide variety of groups.
Arnott, whose group is not listed as a partner organization to the event, notes that Food Day is an opportunity to talk about what food producers are doing. "We're producing more food today using fewer resources than ever before," he says. "The new interest in food provides an opportunity we haven't had in agriculture. We need to see this as an opportunity to try to engage the conversation."
A visit to the FoodDay.org website might be an eye opener for today's commercial farmers, with coverage of the "eat real" approach. However, being aware of the issues will help farmers better engage the discussion in a positive way.
Arnott notes that suburbanites and city residents may be living on land that was used for farming in 1960. "We're farming 10 million fewer acres than we did back then, but there's more to be done," Arnott says. "We need to support those responsible systems that farmers are using."
Food Day organizers ask that consumers consider these six principles:
* Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.
* Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness.
* Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.
* Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms.
* Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.
* Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.
As the discussions surrounding food day continue, consider your role as a farmer in that discussion, and how you might engage the conversation.
If you're on Twitter, check out the hashtag #foodday and #foodday365 (you'll find more farmers with the #foodday365 tag since food is a year-round business). And check out these Food Day related blogs and resources:
Kansas Grains Blog on Food Day
American Agriculture Alliance
US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance
Best Food Facts from the Center for Food Integrity - Arnott's group
Ag Chat Foundation Food Day page