Hamburgers, pizzas, french fries, and sugary drinks -- in today's fast-paced world, these foods have become staples for many Americans. But this unhealthy diet has led to an increase in chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents are now obese, staggering numbers that the organizers of Food Day, a nationwide event taking place on October 24, hope to decrease dramatically.
But promoting safe, healthy and affordable food is only one aim of Food Day, which is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog group that fights for food labeling, better nutrition, and safer food. The organizers also want to support sustainable, humane farming, and fair trading conditions.
Around the United States, cities and communities are coming together to showcase the benefits of eating healthy, locally grown, and organic food. Philadelphia is organizing a city-wide event focused on ending hunger and food "deserts" -- areas where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. In California, organizations are building a statewide Food Day partnership to promote new food policies, and in Iowa, conferences are being held to highlight how small and mid-sized farmers can get their produce to markets.
In addition to these forums and celebrations, nearly 400 individual events are being sponsored by communities, groups, and companies across the United States. These include:
- San Francisco. The organization savenature.org is hosting benefit dinners on October 20-22 to show how delicious earth-friendly food can be.
- Boston. Boston Food Swap is organizing a crowd-sourced potluck-where they will provide the venue, and attendees will provide local, organic food to show that responsible food is both nutritious and tasty.
- Phoenix. In a "Lunch and Learn" session for students and the general public, a panel of local farmers and chefs will demonstrate how they work together to provide sustainable food.
- Miami. The city will hold its annual Food & Recreation Expo, offering health screenings, fitness demos, diet and nutrition sessions, giveaways, free massages, and more. The host of "Dinner: Impossible," Robert Irvine, will perform a live cooking demonstration.
- Seattle. On October 24, the restaurant Fresh Starts and filmmaker Severine von Tscharner Fleming will screen "The Greenhorns," a film about the spirit, vision, and stories behind new farmers, followed by an interactive information session on the Farm Bill.
- Universities. Events are being planned at the University of Vermont, University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina, New York University, Stanford, Yale, and Harvard School of Public Health, among others.
Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project