Eat real on National Food Day

by Julie Snyder

National Food DayCould you imagine? Our great-grandparents would be horrified if they were able to join in on a weekly grocery run.

They'd likely question whether most of the items stocking supermarket shelves today actually qualify as "real food!"

Sadly, by their standards (and what should be our own), they would be right.

National Food Day is like Earth Day, but tastier! Aimed at promoting healthy, sustainable, affordable, and just food systems in America, Food Day is a grassroots movement.

It encourages us to work together toward a system -- from seed to plate -- that respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and the environment. Some people call it "local," "green," "slow" or "fair."

What is Food Day anyway?

Communities across the nation will be hosting Food Day events and activities to support the event's six commitments:

✓ Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods

✓ Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness

Expand access to food and alleviate hunger

Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms

Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids

Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

This year, showcase how much you value your family's health and well-being by participating in one or more of the many Food Day activities available.

Family-centered Food Day activities

For kids

Eat green: Try a new vegetable. Did you know that a special squash looks like spaghetti and tastes great with marinara sauce. Ask your mom to cook up a spaghetti squash tonight!

Pour one out: The Center for Science in the Public Interest is encouraging groups of young people to hold "Pour One Out" events, where participants get rid of cans or bottles of sugary soda. Make a video of you and your friend. Get as silly as you want.

For educators

FoodPlay Productions or a similar program can help empower kids with the skills needed to see through advertising and media messages and take charge of growing up healthy and fit.

Learn about labels: Teach about the different names for sugar and fats that show up on food labels. Share a healthy snack and recipe such as Apple Smiles.

Make a sandwich with fruit as the bread! Wash and cut an apple or pear into thin wedges. Pat dry. Then, put a slice of cheese or spread peanut or other nut butter in between the two wedges. Squeeze gently. You can even smoosh puffed rice cereal into the peanut butter between the two slices for "teeth." Smile as you eat it, and say "cheese!"

For parents

Community events: Check your local area for events. You may find an "eating healthy on a budget" workshop at your local community center or an entire week-long program at the university.

Farm to School program: Does your school have one? If not, form a committee and get one started. If so, see how you can help make it better.

For everyone

October unprocessed: A few years ago, Andrew Wilder asked himself, "What would happen if I went for an entire month without eating any processed foods?" He defined unprocessed food as any that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

You don't have to be the cook; just check labels to see if someone you know would be able to make it. Probably if the label has unpronounceable ingredients and isolates, it won't quality.

Try a day or a week if an entire month boggles your mind and your busy schedule. You might find that food tastes more vibrant and you feel more alive!

Are you planning to celebrate Food Day on October 24? What will your family do?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.