Every movement deserves its day. Back in the ‘60s the growth of environmentalism led to Earth Day, which is now celebrated by more than 500 million people in 175 countries. Today’s food movement offers many parallels to that time, and now there’s an official day that seeks to underscore its impact in similar fashion.
The first ever Food Day will take place on Monday, and it promises to be a nationwide extravaganza. There’ll be a Slow Food potlatch in Sitka, Alaska; an all-day concert and barbecue in Springfield, Missouri; a locally grown apple festival in Sterling Heights, Michigan; food symposiums in Seattle; and a yard-to-table feast in Jacksonville, Florida. More than 1,500 events in all are set to take place across the country.
Organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day’s aim is to bring together all sides of the movement — everyone from chefs to policy wonks to farmers and consumers — under the banner of “healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way” (per the mission statement).
“Food Day will bring together a lot of people with common interests in food issues, but who otherwise haven’t worked all that closely together,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of CSPI.
So what’s missing? A big chunk of the food industry. That's because Food Day takes aim at many processed foods and CPG manufacturers. There’s a “Terrible Ten” list that calls out Coke, Froot Loops and any products that contain white flour as having an adverse effect on Americans’ health. Food Day also focuses on 6 principles that include curbing junk-food marketing to kids and reforming factory farms.
Mainstream supermarkets prefer to stay on the sidelines here, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be involved. Followers of the website Fooducate, for one, are invited to join founder Hemi Weingarten for a tour of a San Francisco Safeway store to learn how to decipher labels and find healthy, affordable foods.
Although retailers haven’t signed on with Food Day’s principles, they can’t deny those same principles are reflected in their stores. From natural and organic to the rise in nutrition labeling, the mainstream supermarket experience has changed dramatically over the past several years, and all thanks to the same shoppers who will be participating in Monday’s events.