What is Food Day - Abridged Version
Abridged summary of the key issues in our approach to Food Day
Food Day is a movement across the United States of people working to promote a healthy, affordable, sustainable and just food system. For the first annual Food Day on Monday October 24th 2011, the University of Miami will present a series of programs that align with this movement. We will be collaborating with local community partners, including organic farms, nonprofit food justice organizations, faculty members, student groups, sustainable restaurants, and food worker organizations throughout South Florida. Together, we hope to raise awareness about food issues in South Florida and mobilize members of our community to become involved in this cause. In contemporary society, it is easy to be unaware of where our food comes from and how it is produced. Grocery stores have bounties of food available, but where was the produce farmed? It's not always easy to connect what we buy to its origins, and in the case of the processed food that makes up the bulk of a grocery's stock it becomes even more difficult. The bleached and artificially re-enriched flours and corn syrup that make up much of the diet in the United States is processed and modified to such a degree that there's almost no trace of whole ingredients our food. The links between our diet and health are clear. According to a 2010 US Department of Health and Human Services report, "the most effective approach to address the leading causes of death is to reduce and prevent underlying risk factors, including physical inactivity, poor nutrition." The New York Times recently reported that if current trends continue, there could be "8 million more cases of diabetes, 6.8 million more cases of atherosclerotic heart disease and stroke and more than 500,000 more cases of cancer" each year by the year 2030. In The Omnivore's Dilemma, celebrated journalist and food writer Michael Pollan explains succinctly that "many of the problems of health and nutrition we face today trace back to things that happen on the farm, and behind those things stand specific government policies few of us know anything about." In addition, because health is tied to access to an adequate quality and quantity of food, people living in poverty and food deserts suffer disproportionate rates of diet-related illnesses. The conventional system by which our food is currently produced is ecologically unsound, according to many food scholars. Wendell Berry, noted poet, food writer, and farmer, has written that "our present agriculture, in general, is not ecologically sustainable now, and it is a long way from becoming so. It is too toxic. It is too dependent on fossil fuels. It is too wasteful of soil, soil fertility, and of water. It is destructive of the health of the natural systems that surround and support our economic life." Factory farming, which Berry argues "has relentlessly increased scale in order to increase volume in order (presumably) to increase costs," not only has immense negative consequences for our health and the planet, but human costs, too. According to a recent report by the Human Rights Watch, hundreds of thousands of children--mostly Latino--work on farms in the United States, often for 12 to 14 hour days. According to a second report released by Oxfam, farm workers (both children and adults) are subject to pesticide poisoning, belowminimum wages, compulsory and unpaid overtime, massive job insecurity, inadequate safety training (paired with poor to nonexistent health benefits), sexual harassment, and sometimes even a lack of access to drinking water. For some Americans, it is now easier to obtain fair and sustainable sustenance than ever: yet that access is not universal, let alone a regular feature of our society's foods. Our goal for Food Day is to catalyze discussion about food justice broadly understood as a holistic social movement that bridges human and ecological concerns. As Michael Pollan wrote: "though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world--and what is to become of it."