Consumers who spend hundreds of hours a year earning money to pay for their food purchases will not spend 10 hours a year learning about what foods to buy and what foods to avoid.
Yet consumers are complaining strenuously about rising food prices, inadequate nutrition, suspicious fillers and additives and agribusiness deals such as the Russian grain deal and its immense inflationary consequences.
Just what is it about our formal and informal educational systems that pay so little attention to such an enormously important subject?
The problem is not just with elementary, high school and college curricula. Medical schools have relegated the study of nutrition to a very minor part of their courses for students. Television and radio convey information fostering poor diets with their stress on advertisements promoting foods with high sugar or fat content and heavily colored with artificial dyes.
The costs of such popular ignorance about food — its price, quality, distribution, subsidy and monopoly control — are enormous. Overseas, mass starvation of millions is coming closer to reality. Too many poor Americans are afflicted with hunger or severe malnutrition. The family farm has been rapidly disappearing with giant corporations taking greater control of food production, processing and distribution.
As medical researchers probe deeper into the sources of diseases, the tracks are leading more and more to diets and the kinds of foods which are consumed.
There is no doubt that more people are awakening to the need to educate themselves about food and food policies and then becoming involved in shaping those policies.. Families from Massachusetts to California are joining to form food cooperatives to improve their purchasing power. There is even a paperback book out describing how to form such cooperatives.
To accelerate this growing food price and quality consciousness, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest is spearheading a national day for action on the food crisis on Food Day, April 17, 1975. Backed by a prestigious advisory board of scientists, including Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer and Nobel Laureate George Wald, the CSPI is working with student, consumer, environmental, church, poverty and other groups to organize teach-in and action programs in hundreds of communities.
Dr. Michael Jacobson, author of the popular Nutrition Scoreboard and CSPI coordinator for Food Day, believes that April 17th can be a watershed in understanding the food crisis, in increasing competition and responsibility in the food industry, in improving the nation’s eating habits, in aiding millions of people overseas and in eliminating hunger in the U.S. Food Day not as an isolated event but as “the most visible part of continuing activities.”
The CSPI has 10 fulltime employees working to make Food Day a continuing success. From their offices at 1785 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Room 206, Washington, D.C. 20036, consumers can receive free materials to help them organize Food Day activities and action programs in their areas.
Included in the packet, for example, is the Terrible Ten foods which the CSPI believes epitomizes “everything that is wrong with the food supply.” In early March, a food action handbook full of suggestions for community activities will be’ released.
What the CSPI really is calling for is a dramatic change in consumer lifestyles which will reduce the price of food, improve the quality of food to avoid diet-related diseases and sharpen the moral consciousness of Americans to respond to the problem of world famine.
People, by personal and political actions, can help solve these serious problems. If they don’t, then the giant food corporations and their compliant government agencies will continue along the path which already has led to the food crisis.