There is no better place than the Heartland to celebrate food. Many Iowans like to tout that our state feeds the world. Our productivity and innovation in agriculture are to be commended. However, if we are not actively engaging in discussion around all aspects of the food system then we are not doing justice to our mission as the nation’s first land grant university.
The need for more discussion is precisely the energy fueling our coalition of organizations supporting the Food Day movement at Iowa State this month. These conversations at ISU need not be mutually exclusive: encouraging a discussion together can lead us to realize that many people hope for similar goals across the state.
There is a vibrant network of producers, policy makers, scientists, students, and activists in the central Iowa community working every day to foster dialogue on many of Food Day’s initiatives: promoting healthier diets, protecting the environment, and supporting farm workers, for example.
“The energetic evolution of Food Day is compelling evidence that a food revolution is underway which represents a growing number of ‘food citizens’ who want access to healthier, whole foods, produced in ways they can embrace, and that allows them to buy their food through transparent, trusting relationships," says Fred Kirschenmann, distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Kirschenmann was a part of the initial Food Day planning and events last year on campus, which consisted of a few movie screenings and a panel discussion around consumers and the food system. The momentum begun by a few sponsoring organizations in 2011 is growing on campus and beyond.
This year, organizers started planning early and worked to recruit a diverse set of organizations to host events. More than 15 organizations across the Iowa State campus and surrounding communities have collaborated since early spring to plan events for Food Day 2012. Events will take place the week prior to and leading up to Food Day. The Green Umbrella at Iowa State is also celebrating Campus Sustainability Day on October 24th, an opportunity to highlight the university’s sustainability initiatives.
ISU Dining is sponsoring programs for Food Day and Sustainability Day as a platform to highlight the initiatives they are working toward in their sustainability programs. These initiatives include the local farm program, Farm to ISU, and other platforms such as food donations, composting, waste reduction, and recycling. “These events create an opportunity to inform students and the community about ISU Dining's sustainability initiatives, as well as connect people to the amazing programs and organizations both at ISU and within the Ames community involved in the food system,” says Courtney Long, ISU Dining Sustainability Coordinator.
Much of the Food Day energy has been driven by the campus’s student organizations. "I am taking part in Food Day because we need to extend our focus beyond food security. Our focus should not be about how we can feed the world, but how we can better help the world to feed itself. Food sovereignty offers a different view of how we might feed the world through engagement in a healthy, socially just, and sustainable food system," says Angie Carter, PhD student in rural sociology and sustainable agriculture. Carter is a part of the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association who is co-sponsoring the kick-off event on October 15th, “Food Sovereignty: A Different Vision of Feeding the World,” featuring a representative of this year’s Food Sovereignty Prize winner, the Korean Women's Peasant Association.
A full list of events can be found here: http://agarts.eserver.org/2012/10/04/iowa-state-celebrates-food-day-with-a-week%E2%80%99s-worth-of-events-2/