Our right to good and healthy food choices is threatened by intense global demand for food and the increasing shortage of meeting this demand. But that’s not what scary to me. I’m upset and frightened that the companies who brought us some of our most toxic chemicals – hard-core pesticides, PCBs and Agent Orange – are now in control of our food through biotechnology. Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, and others are major players in our food system, oil our politician’s pockets, and help keep us in the dark on whether our food is contaminated with GMOs. Unlike in the European Union, in the US we are not afforded the right to choose clearly labeled foods about whether it is from GMOs. (You can bet that most food – including “natural” and even some “organic” foods are contaminated by GMOs.) And we continue to be threatened as local and federal rulings throw the 1-2 punches at American consumers and our rights to make choices about exactly what we are consuming.
Don’t believe me? Read up on the latest news about Judge Fiedler who ruled that you do not have the right to choose your own foods. WTF? Yea, you read it right. Click on this link. Scroll to paragraph 2 of page 3 and the ruling on pg. 4. It states that one does “not have the fundamental rights to produce and consume foods of . . . choice.” This ruling is the response to a case questioning whether farmers have rights to consume their raw milk from their own cows. If the farmer does not have the right to his own food choices, why would any average citizen have those rights? Just weeks after this ruling, Judge Fiedler resigned and went to work for Monsanto.
Have you read about Monsanto ruthless suing-sprees against small farmers and seed cleaners? Read this brief article, as it outlines the actions of Monsanto against small food producers and farmer support. Perhaps what’s most frightening is the revolving door between Monsanto and politicians. From Secretary Tom Vilsack, to FDA Commissioner Michael Taylor (also a VP at Monsanto), to Ag Trade reps and the Supreme Court powers, Obama is lining the halls with Monsanto’s faces. This means that Monsanto big wigs are writing the rules and regulations for our food, drug, and farming practices.
Jail time for growing veggies. Did you hear about Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan? City officials threatened her with 93 days of jail if she didn’t remove her front yard vegetable garden, even though there wasn’t a law stating it as criminal to grow a front yard veggie patch.
We are a hungry nation. According to the latest data, 19% of Americans are food insecure, which means that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. That’s more than 1 in every 6. Statistically speaking, this means that someone in your neighborhood, office, and church are going hungry. The stats for kids are worse: more than 1 in every 5 children is going hungry. How many kids are in your child’s class? Divide that number by 5 and you will have a conservative number for how many of your child’s schoolmates are going hungry. According to this report, US is now second in the world, only to Mexico, for food insecurity among children. Sesame Street recently took up this issue, in an effort to raise awareness about food needs among kids and their families.
How did we end up here? Rather, how can we prevent things from getting scarier and protect our rights to food sovereignty? National Food Day is part of the revolution to support healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane, dignified manner. We all need to be concerned about the plummeting welfare of our current food systems.
The Goals of National Food Day:
- Support sustainable farms
- Reduce diet related diseases by access to quality foods
- Decrease food deserts by expanding access to food, thereby improving food security
- Reform factory farms to support humane conditions for farm animals, farm employees, and the environment
- Promote health through increased access to nutritious and whole foods
- Curb junk-food marketing to children
- Reduce financial subsidies to giant agri-businesses
Take the Power Back!
What you can do today and every day:
- Buy local whenever possible. You can join a local CSA (community supported agriculture), local food co-operative, or visit your farmer’s markets.
- Grow something, anything! Start with herbs or a salad mixture. Lettuce and kale are easy to grow at this time of year. Grow more if you can. You can join in on a cooperative space for growing. You can also replace some of your ornamental greenery (like shrubs) with food-producing plants (like berry bushes or grapes). Not only is it beautiful to grow edibles, it is greatly satisfying.
- Cook. Prioritize it in your schedule. Budget your time for it. Commission help from your kids. Cook cooperatively with neighbors or friends. Do whatever it takes. Don’t know how to cook? Take a class. Buy a cookbook. Watch a You Tube instructional video. Buy Mark Bittman’s book “How to Cook Everything.” It’s not hard, but it does take practice, patience, and a sense of adventure.
- Inform yourself and inspire yourself. Here are a few great documentaries to put at the top of your movie night list:
- Urban Roots
- Food, Inc
- The Future of Food
- Here is a guide to more excellent documentary recommendations.
Important actions for us, the consumers, to explore:
- Right now: Watch this Sesame Street video on childhood hunger.
- What would it take for you to cook at least one meal per day for your family?
- Why do you think that buying local is important? Can you aim to eat 20% of your foods from local sources within the year?
- What simple steps can you take to consume better foods today, at your very next meal?
- Get some perspective about the demands on our food systems. Let it inspire you to start growing some of your own foods. Watch this video from the Center for Food Integrity.
- Speak out about your right to choose healthier foods and know if what you are buying is GMO.
Please support the movement. Visit the FoodDay.org website to learn more and sign the petition in favor of the mission. And on behalf of all eaters today and in the future, THANK YOU.
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To our food rights and choices,