A Call to Action on Food: What Can You Do?

I received a comment on my last post asking what was my call to action for individuals in terms of what can they do to change the food system. This post is my reply.

If what I write about inspires you to take action to change our flawed and backwards food system, this is what I challenge you to do:

  • Adopt Meatless Mondays, or any meatless day or days, really. Any systematic reduction in the amount of animal products that we consume will have a positive effect on human health (including cancer, antibiotic resistant infections, and other foodborne pathogens), animal welfare, natural resource use, greenhouse gas emissions, and worker justice.
  • Only buy products that you can feel good about eating. This particular challenge is quite overwhelming, and I certainly don’t know that everything I eat was produced by an establishment whose practices I completely approve. But I gradually try more and more all the time. Websites like http://www.humaneitarian.org can help you find out where you can purchase meat you can feel good about and help you decipher label claims like “cage free” and “humanely raised”. As far as worker justice is concerned, you might have to do a little more research; one great organization that can point you toward socially just shopping is the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
  • Buy locally, which will also mean seasonally. Don’t be fooled by some modern farmer’s markets where the produce actually comes from far away. Try to buy it directly from the farmer. A farm share (assuming its local) can be a great way to eat whole, seasonal produce and prepare it yourself. If you don’t know, a purchasing a farm share entitles you to a certain amount of produce, and sometimes dairy or meat, each week from a particular farm or farms. It’s a lot of food each week usually, but you don’t get to pick what they give you, which actually encourages you to cook new healthy foods!
  • Vote with your fork. This means that you should encourage your lawmakers, locally and federally, to take a stance on important food issues, and vote for the politicians that will represent your food values. Many non-profit organizations that work on food issues, such as Center for Science in the Public Interest and Center for Food Safety send out “action alerts” to subscribers to let them know when there are petitions they can sign or critical moments to contact legislators, and they usually give you a template message to send.
  • Most importantly, spread the word. The only way to get more people to care about these issues is to make sure they know about them. Start a dialogue with the people you care about, tell them why you choose to eat real. If you’re going to encourage them to make changes, start with small ones. Or, if you’re verbally inclined, you can write about food, like I do. It’s not very difficult to start a blog these days.

I acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things, any one individual adopting these practices won’t tip the scales of the food movement; however, if more and more people move in this direction it could really make a difference. As I always say, you have to start somewhere.

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10 thoughts on “A Call to Action on Food: What Can You Do?

  1. Good points. I’d also say that more and more people can look for ways to supplement their food needs on their own property. Gardens or fruit baring trees used to be more common as part of a home structure and a large portion of Americans have the capacity to revive it again. Like you noted, one individuals actions wont tip the scales, but every piece of food that’s grown at home and displaces the energy and resources of going to get one at a market begins to change the metrics of the bloated agriculture system we have now.

  2. Absolutely agree, we are also facing an obesity epidemic in the UK, while companies market unhealthy foods directly to children. The food industry is nearly as bad as the tobacco industry, in my opinion. It has no social responsibility, your suggestions are a good start to instilling this!

  3. I believe that the most impactful thing any of us can do is go vegan. I also believe there is no such thing as humane meat. What is your position? While I know that your focus is broader than just the meat/dairy issue I’m curious what you actually believe about animal use and exploitation? Have you read any of Gary Francione’s work? His animal abolitionist point of view might be of interest to you. Best…

    • I am always open to new points of view, but currently, while I feel that the factory farm standard of animal treatment is horrifying and completely unacceptable, I don’t think that giving up meat and animal products entirely is necessary or realistic. In a perfect world, perhaps we would all be vegans, but I can’t really start preaching that without being vegan myself, although I do eat mostly animal product-free meals. I’d love to check out Gary Francione.

  4. I just watched the documentary fed up for the second time and it made me think of you and the work you’re doing! There are so many lies in the food industry that it’s downright disgusting! It’s almost unbelievable how are governments turn a blind eye to our rising health epidemics only to line the pockets of major food conglomerates! The sugar industry is by far the most concerning topic I have come across. It really bothers me that we don’t have the percentage of dietary recommendations of sugar on any food labeling’s. Do you know of any camping or lobby action to get food labels to report percentage of sugar?

    • The FDA is working on revamping the nutrition facts label for packaged food and one of their main considerations is including a line for added sugar and possibly adding a percent daily value for sugar. I believe the public comment period for that is over, so all we can do is sit tight and wait to see what they come up with! But I totally agree, sugar is a HUGE concern.

  5. Reblogged this on Health Conspiracy and commented:
    Our food industry is quite literally killing us while our government takes a backseat and continues to be bullied by major food companies and their sugar addicted products! Something needs to change but like this blogger says, we can’t wait for someone else to change it for us! Here are the steps you can take to combat the food industry right from your own kitchen. I’ve always said that it’s going to be a grassroots effort, and more and more that is becoming true. Don’t weight for change, be change!

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