The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Restaurants Invited to Celebrate Food Day with Positive Steps

Buying Local, Adding Whole Grains Among the Possibilities


Prominent chefs, nutritionists, and food activists are inviting the nation's restaurants to celebrate Food Day on October 24 by announcing improvements to menus and sourcing policies that advance health and the environment. Organizers say that restaurants could observe Food Day in a wide variety of ways, including by buying more produce, meat, and eggs from local farms; by adding more whole grains to breads and pastas; or by collecting money for food banks, farmers markets, or other local organizations.

Chefs already participating in Food Day include Alice Waters, of famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., Dan Barber of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room in Westport, Conn., early organics pioneer Nora Pouillon of Washington, D.C.'s Restaurant Nora, and sustainable seafood expert Barton Seaver. Food Day is also partnering with groups like Chefs Collaborative, American Culinary Federation, and the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, and is encouraging local restaurants to seek out partnerships with area hunger and sustainable-agriculture groups.

"Food Day is a great opportunity for restaurants to show their commitment to locally produced artisan foods, to showcase a variety of whole grains, and to reach out to an audience hungry for more sustainable ways to consume that are more in keeping with the health of our bodies and our environment," said Ellen Gray, co-owner, along with her husband Todd Gray, of Equinox Restaurant, Watershed, and Todd Gray's Muse at the Corcoran, all in Washington, D.C.

Restaurants could invite farmers to meet diners, plan special menus or events, or publicize Food Day via email and social media. Some examples already in the works include:

* A chain of vegan restaurants, Native Foods, will organize cooking demonstrations and tastings in its seven locations in California;

* In Manhattan, the massive Italian market Eataly has started handing out Food Day materials, and will bring in 20 farmers to talk to customers;

* Food Day organizers in New Haven, Conn., are planning a Real Food Restaurant Week during which restaurants will offer special meals featuring local produce and healthier options; and

* Uncommon Ground restaurant in Chicago will observe Food Day by offering a three-course Farm-to-Table prix fixe menu from October 16 to October 24.

Organized by the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day will encourage people around the country to sponsor or participate in activities that encourage Americans to "eat real" and support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.

Modeled on Earth Day, organizers hope Food Day will inspire Americans to hold thousands of events in schools, college campuses, houses of worship, restaurants, and even in private homes aimed at fixing America's diet and food system. A Food Day event could be as small as a parent organizing a vegetable identification contest at a kindergarten class--or as massive as a rally in a city park, with entertainment and healthy food. Health departments, city councils, and other policymakers could use Food Day to launch campaigns, hold hearings, or otherwise address communities' food problems.

"I'm excited that many restaurants are seizing the opportunity presented by Food Day and becoming part of a movement aimed at getting people to celebrate honest-to-goodness real food that comes from farms and not factories," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.

Food Day is led by honorary co-chairs Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and an advisory board that includes author Michael Pollan; prominent physicians Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Roizen, and David Satcher; nutrition authorities Walter Willett, Kelly Brownell, and Marion Nestle; actor Jane Fonda; filmmaker Morgan Spurlock; and Rodale, Inc. CEO Maria Rodale.

Besides restaurants, many national organizations, such as the American Dietetic Association, American Public Health Association, Community Food Security Coalition, Earth Day Network, Farmers Market Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Prevention Institute, and Slow Food USA, along with many city- and state-level organizations, are planning on organizing or participating in Food Day events.

Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.