This is not about Food Day.
You will, I am sure, be hearing plenty about Food Day from others.
And, I might add, with good reason. Food Day -- October 24, 2011 -- is the brain child of my friend and colleague, Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The name of that organization really says it all. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has stood watch over ... well, science in the public interest, for decades. This non-profit organization goes to bat routinely, fearlessly and in a variety of ways -- from education to litigation -- to defend us all from health-compromising practices, and to advance the application of science with the potential to improve the human condition. That really is the whole agenda -- so it would be hard to find a more laudable one.
As the founder and executive director, Mr. Jacobson has established himself as one of the leading champions of public health in the country. We have him, and his organization, to thank for more truth in advertising, for the removal of trans fat from movie theater popcorn, for six good reasons to consume a greener diet and for our awareness of just how many calories are picked into some popular restaurant meals.
And now credit for a national Food Day can be added to Mike's laurels. I was among those invited to join the Food Day advisory board fairly early on -- but since my humble addition, it has grown into a who's who in the worlds of health, cuisine and public policy.
The intent of Food Day is to highlight the importance of food to health, to the planet and to our fellow species. It is intended to showcase what is good in the world of both personal action and public policy, and to point a spotlight at what is bad -- such as the persistence of large-scale subsidies more in the interests of food suppliers, than of we the people -- the food demanders. Food Day is an opportunity to demand better!
There are innumerable expressions of solidarity for the Food Day mission. One in particular brought to my attention involves thousands of students at more than 100 colleges and universities across America who will be uniting to celebrate "real food" with the Real Food Project and attempt to make lasting changes in campus food services.
While each campus is planning its own event, they are all united through a photo contest. Each campus is asked to create a sign in support of obtaining real food and then taking pictures of students with the sign at their event. RFC is giving out prizes for the most photos taken as well as the most creative signs made. The main action is local in each case -- but the global Food Day vision set it all in motion.
But as I said, this is NOT about Food Day. I'll leave that to others.
This is about the other 364 days this year; the 365 days last year; and the 365 days next year. Why aren't THEY Food Day?
How can any day we put food into our bodies -- or any day spent hungry and wishing we could put food into our bodies -- not be Food Day?
On a routine basis, we overlook the profound importance of food. It is nothing less than the source of all construction material for the growing body of a child. Can any loving parent or grandparent truly sanction the construction of a child out of "junk"?
It is nothing less than the construction material for the countless millions of cells and molecules adults lose, and need to replace, every day. It is nothing less than the fuel that runs every function of the human machine.
Used badly, food is among the top three causes of premature death in modern society. And because that premature death comes as the culminating event of chronic disease, bad use of food is not just taking years from life -- it is taking life from years.
Used well, food can be the very opposite -- one of the greatest sources of health and vitality, adding years to life, and life to years. Used well, food can help prevent 80 percent of all chronic disease. If you think this is just a dull statistic -- ask yourself if you love someone who has suffered heart disease, cancer, stroke or diabetes. If every day were Food Day for us all, the likelihood of you saying "yes" to that would be 80 percent lower!
And used well, food can resolve the long-smoldering nature/nurture debate. Because the power of food is such that it empowers us to nurture even nature, and refashion our medical destiny at the very level of our genes.
And used well, food is a source of great delight. Many of us have been privileged to enjoy the marvelous cuisine of Mediterranean countries; such cuisine also counts among contenders for the "best diet" laurels. Every day is an opportunity to love food that loves us back; to eat good food, and eat food we feel good about eating.
We will savor that scrumptious prize routinely -- when every day is Food Day.