Today is Food Day, a national grassroots campaign for healthy, affordable food produced in a humane, sustainable, and just way. Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and modeled after Earth Day, the idea appears to be a huge success, with over 2,000 events scheduled around the nation. Even the food industry is taking notice by putting out their own silly messages about how "every day is Food Day for the food and beverage industry." (Exactly, that's why we need our own day.)
But when all of today's positive energy dies down, many of us will continue to do the hard to work to make systemic changes to our very broken food system. And it's getting harder all the time, with massive push back from a very powerful industry that has endless resources. But now there is more hope than ever before, coming in the form of the Occupy movement.
On Saturday, I marched with hundreds of my neighbors in Occupy Oakland, right past my local farmers market, which seemed entirely appropriate: a symbol of an alternative universe where local, fresh food made by caring individuals triumphs over chemical-laden concoctions churned out in far-away factories. I was in tears as marchers called out to on-lookers at the market to "join us, join us." (The entire march was much more moving and inspiring than writing blog posts about the evils of food industry marketing.)
Everyone working to change the food system should find a way to hook up with Occupy. The connection should be obvious. The Occupy movement at its core is about corporate power. Indeed, every one of the six Food Day principles connects to the corporate takeover of our food supply:
1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness
3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.
Still not convinced? Read my smart colleagues' calls to action:
- Mark Bittman, New York Times: Finally Making Sense on Wall Street
- Slow Food USA: Occupy Wall Street: What's food got to do with it?
- Siena Chrisman, Why Hunger: Why the Food Movement Should Occupy Wall Street
- Tom Philpott, Mother Jones: Foodies, Get Thee to Occupy Wall Street
- Ben Lillitson, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:
What does the occupation of Wall Street have to do with agriculture?
So today enjoy Food Day. And tomorrow go join Occupy, it may be our best hope yet.