Today is Food Day, a day to promote "healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way." This I support. But some of the lofty ideas, biased language and unsupportable premises offered by the promoters I do not support.
For example, the 6 Food Day Principles strive to both limit subsidies to agribusiness and alleviate hunger, even though you need the first to first to accomplish the second. The official Food Day cookbook, Eat Real, is described as a collection of delicious, healthful, easy-to-prepare recipes, yet includes "Braised Kohlrabi with Fennel & Leeks" and "Yogurt Panna Cotta with Cranberry Pear Sauce," which just don't sound real enough for most people I know.
Therefore I am taking a different approach. As a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist, I have prepared a pledge of the ten things I will not do on Food Day, or any other day of the year, because I believe they are contrary to health promotion and a sense of fairness to all of the people in America who need to hear messages about good nutrition.
Food Day Pledge From a Registered Dietitian
I hereby pledge not to:
1. Blame any single food, beverage or ingredient for obesity. It's a complex issue with many biological, environmental, behavioral and social implications. We don't have all the answers but the shot-gun approach of targeting one thing as the cause doesn't help.
2. Use toxic language to describe otherwise edible food. Terms like "toxic," "garbage" and "junk," have no place in the conversation when a food is not spoiled or is otherwise safe to eat.
3. Hide vegetables in other foods in order to get kids – or anyone else – to eat them. Only in America could such an idea flourish.
4. Presume that the food supply and/or diets of Americans were actually better at some other time in history than they are right now. We simply weren't micromanaging everything we ate in the past as we are today since most of history was dominated by a need to stay one step ahead of starvation.
5. Submit to the idea that food advertising and brand marketing are more powerful than individual choice. They may lead us to the product, but we buy based on education, income and circumstances.
6. Profess that we know all that there is to know about our nutritional needs and how to meet them. The science of human nutrition is young and still evolving, so I will always be ready for more breakthroughs.
7. Let the rapid rate at which news travels via the Internet undermine the slow and methodical pace of scientific discovery. Changes in dietary guidance are not based on single studies or viral videos.
8. Forget that most Americans do not live near a farmer's market or other local source for year round produce. Frozen and canned vegetables are two of the best values in the grocery store.
9. Ignore the fact that there is no such thing as "The American Diet." Food consumption survey data is at best a fuzzy snapshot of what some people ate for a few days of the year, as best as they could remember and describe it. That does not tell the whole story.
10. Overlook the uniqueness of each person's diet as a reflection of his or her cultural, ethnic, religious and socio-economic heritage and, most importantly, personal tastes.