Not office “food day” or post-birthday leftover food day (which is what I’m really celebrating).
But food day that is being celebrated differently than most people in agriculture might think. Food Day was founded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Their goal is to help inspire Americans to change their food choices and convince businesses, schools, farms, and policy makers to implement healthier, more sustainable food policies.
The efforts of the CSPI and their following are trying to confuse consumers and businesses that what today’s farmer is doing is not healthy and sustainable. What these people don’t understand is how conventional farming is healthier and more sustainable than ever before. How?
1. While many food elitists tout that organic/natural/gmo-free food is healthier for you, there is no evidence supporting the notion that organic foods are healthier than those derived from conventional cultivation methods. Multiple studies for various food groups (i.e. cereals, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and oils, breads, and milk and dairy) concluded that there are no clear differences in nutrition state between foods derived from organic or conventional cultivation methods. (more details and references here)
2. Another similar question is, “Are GMO’s safe?”. GMOs have been in our food supply for almost 20 years, and GM ingredients are found in 70 to 80 percent of the foods on your grocery store shelves. If GMOs were not safe, we would have a big problem. Fortunately, science shows us that there is no evidence of harm from GMOs. And this is backed by nearly 1,800 safety studies. That makes me feel MORE confident in our food system and the health aspects of these foods than before there were GMOs when crops were sprayed with pesticides & herbicides no matter what.
3. Long-term health concerns of GM crops? Since farmers first began growing biotech crops in 1996, there has been no credible evidence of harm to humans or animals. In addition, the following two studies assessed the long-term safety of GMOs:
- In December 2010, the European Commission published a report summarizing the results of 50 research projects addressing the safety of GMOs for the environment as well as for animal and human health. These projects received funding of €200 million from the EU and are part of a 25-year long research effort on GMOs. In announcing the report, the Commission stated, “…there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants.”
- In 2012, a literature review of well-designed, long-term and multigenerational animal feeding studies comparing GM and non-GM potatoes, soy, rice, corn and triticale found that GM crops and their non-GM counterparts are nutritionally equivalent and can be safely used in food and feed.
4. Modern farmers are sustainable by using GM crops. GM crops can improve yields for farmers, reduce draws on natural resources and fossil fuels and provide nutritional benefits. As demonstrated by the unprecedentedly rapid adoption of this technology among farmers, GMOs can provide farmers with the means to improve yields under weed and insect pressure; decrease tillage to protect soil and water resources; and reduce pesticide applications, thereby decreasing the use of fossil fuels. Some benefits, such as decreased insecticide applications, also are benefits recognized by consumers and environmentalists.
5. Today’s farmers are also concerned about the future of food production. They are doing all they can to sustain the family farm to pass it down to the next generation. That’s the best definition of sustainable that I can think of!
6. I’m a gardener. But let’s face it. If I had to survive on the food I grew in my garden I would starve. I’m thankful for my 3 carrots I grew this year, but let’s just say I’m glad there are other carrot farmers out there! And modern technology that I can enjoy good food year round, not seasonally. That’s sustainable.
Whatever kind of food we’re talking about, what is most important here, people, is that we can MAKE THE CHOICE to choose the foods we eat. While the CSPI is encouraging picketers to discourage some forms of food production, most farmers are grateful and supportive of all kinds of food production. Besides, for them, every day is the REAL Food Day.
So let’s #ToastAFarmer to celebrate. Let’s celebrate World Food Day (which was October 16) by encouraging others to thank those for providing for our needs, and let’s not get wrapped into the hype around CSPI’s Food Day.