Celebrate Food Day by Meeting a REAL Farmer

Celebrate Food Day by Meeting a REAL Farmer

10/24/2011 3:37 PM

 

Today, October 24, is Food Day.  Although, many of you may not even know it since media coverage of this “nationwide event” organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been rather light.  In fairness, there have been a few stories in major newspapers throughout the country mostly generated by a press release from the Food Day “team” along with some scattered media coverage of local events in various communities throughout the country. 

A few weeks back, the Alliance for Food and Farming decided that Food Day might provide an opportunity to reach out to the media in support of farmers who supply America with its fruits and vegetables.  And so, we issued a Media Advisory which asked food, health and environmental writers to “Meet a REAL Farmer who grows REAL food for REAL people and then introduce these farmers to their viewers, readers and listeners.”

 We elected to take this action, primarily because the stated goal of Food Day is go get people to “eat real.”  As described on the Food Day website – Real food tastes great.  Real food is meals built around vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that are delicious and satisfying.  Further, the site states that  Food Day's goal is nothing less than to transform the American dietto inspire a broad movement involving people from every corner of our land who want healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.

When it comes down to it, there is no way we could disagree with any of those statements. In fact, we support them fully. Not surprisingly, the Food Day website has a lot more to say about American farmers and exactly what kinds of practices constitute “real” farming.  The site encourages people and organizations to support Food Day by frequenting farmers markets and by buying more locally-grown and organically-produced food.  The Alliance for Food and Farming doesn’t have an issue with these recommendations either.  But we got to thinking – sure shopping farmers markets, visiting a local farm and buying locally or organically-grown produce is great.  But what about all the rest of the fruits and vegetables people see in their grocery store produce departments every day or those they eat in restaurants?  Isn’t that real food too?

We can honestly say that every fruit and vegetable farmer we’ve ever met is committed to producing safe, affordable and healthy food, protecting the environment and farm workers and is working to employ farming practices that are considered sustainable.  Also, isn’t every farmer a “local” farmer in the communities where they live and work?

And so, we set out to make this point to the media. We volunteered to help the media find a “real” farmer, but we also encouraged them to seek their own sources by going to their local grocery produce departments and reading labels.   After all, who better to inform people about how their food is grown than farmers themselves?  For many Americans, how their food is grown can be a mystery and it shouldn’t be. We strongly believe that if people got to know the farmers who grow their fruits and vegetables, they would be pleasantly surprised to learn about the care and commitment that goes into producing the fruits and vegetables we all feed our families.   If only people knew that:  

-Fruit and vegetable farmers tend to be small to mid-sized operations rather than large corporations. 

-They are often family-run businesses which have been operating for generations. 

-Fruit and vegetable farmers are not commonly recipients of government subsidies. 

-They are all local farmers in their own communities and contribute to the local economies where they do business.

-Virtually all fruit and vegetable farmers practice sustainable farming, and incorporate methods such as crop rotation and Integrated Pest Management. 

-Many grow both conventional and organic produce. 

-Further, fruits and vegetables are some of the most highly regulated foods in the world regarding food safety.

To date, not one reporter that we know of has taken us up on our offer.   But perhaps in the days following Food Day we’ll hear from a reporter or two who has taken the time to learn more about the dedicated farmers who grow our fruits and vegetables.  And, as many people have aptly pointed out – every day is food day.  So, maybe October 24 is the simply first of many more opportunities to educate the media and consumers about the real farmers who grow real food.   We certainly hope so.       

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