Created: 10/21/11 (Fri) | Topic: Issues
Anti-Modern Ag Day?
By Lynne Finnerty
Most likely you’ve heard of Earth Day, the annual celebration of the environment and ways in which we can and do work to protect it. While Earth Day began as an initiative of environmental groups, farmers and ranchers also have celebrated it for the last few years, proclaiming that every day is Earth Day for them, and telling the public how their farming and conservation practices conserve natural resources.
Now, a self-styled food “watchdog” group is sponsoring the first annual Food Day on October 24. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says the Food Day campaign is about encouraging people to support “healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.” That sounds like something most people can support. The only problem is CSPI’s record of working to limit your food choices and attack today’s agricultural production methods indicates that the group’s Food Day event will have an anti-agriculture slant.
CSPI is the same group that has called for taxes on soft drinks and limiting consumption of meat and dairy foods. The group is known for issuing pseudo-science reports condemning foods like ice cream and movie popcorn, as if we’re not smart enough to know, without the paternalistic CSPI’s help, that these are occasional treats. The group has even taken aim at fruit juice. Of course, CSPI is using Food Day to ask for donations to continue its efforts.
Interestingly, the Food Day event comes one week after World Food Day, celebrated every Oct. 17 since 1981 to recognize the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and increase awareness of global hunger. Some of the very agricultural methods that CSPI criticizes, such as livestock production and biotechnology, are keys to alleviating hunger and keeping agriculture sustainable.
Despite the dubious motives behind Food Day, a number of groups, including Farm Bureau, the Animal Agriculture Alliance and the Center for Food Integrity are all encouraging farmers and ranchers to participate and make their voices heard.
Farmers and ranchers should take the opportunity to let the public know that, for them, every day is Food Day. People should hear how today’s agriculture produces the food we need using fewer resources, and why that’s good for people, animals and the planet.
There are several ways to get involved in the Food Day conversation. Visit www.foodday.org and enter a zip code to search for local events and attend. Farmers and ranchers can speak at a local school, write an op-ed article or letter to the editor of the local newspaper, or host a farm tour.
Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan is doing her part to get the word out about how the thousands of family farms across the country make our safe, abundant and affordable food supply a reality. “Not everyone farms, but everybody has to eat,” Scanlan says in a Food Day message on YouTube. “Most Americans don’t realize how essential and crucial agriculture is to our lives and to our economy.”
While it’s great to have a spokesperson like Miss America, she can’t do this job by herself. Visit www.realfarmersrealfood.com to learn how you can help make Food Day a celebration of today’s productive, diverse food and agriculture system.