Food Squared: Why October Needs Food Day AND World Food Day (really)

This blog post is written by Margaret Riche, our Hunter College Public Service Scholar.

The word on everyone’s lips this month is “food.” Advocates across the world are holding deliberate conversations about our complex food system, and about why our food choices matter.

A multiplicity of voices and perspectives will be represented, but the overall message is the same: Now’s the time to take a hard look at the social, economic and environmental impacts of our food systems, and come together to take steps toward meaningful change.

In honor of all of these goings-on, Ecocentric will join thousands of other blogs with a focus on food for’s Blog Action Day, which coincides with World Food Day (Sunday, October 16th).  The following week is Food Day (Monday, October 24th). In between those dates--on Tuesday (October 18th)--we'll publish a compilation of the best Ecocentric food posts of the year.

Confused about all these dates and the Food Day / World Food Day distinction? Here’s the rundown on what each day means and how you can participate:

World Food Day – Sunday, October 16th

World Food Day is observed on October 16th in recognition of the 1945 founding of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). FAO’s official mandate is “to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.”  The first World Food Day was celebrated in 1981, with the theme of “Food First.” This year, in light of our current financial climate, FAO hopes to generate discussion around the theme of “Food Prices: From Crisis to Stability.”  They are stressing the importance of understanding what causes swings in food prices and how we can best mitigate its impact on the “weakest members of global society.” The UN will be conducting a series of discussions during World Food Week, from October 13th to October 27th.

Oxfam America is also campaigning for World Food Day, calling on participants to host a family dinner that fosters conversation about where our food comes from, who is cultivating it and how we can make our food system more sustainable and just. You can order free materials from their website like placemats, recipe cards, posters and stickers. You can also send your friends Sunday dinner invitation videos from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, legendary author and advocate Frances Moore Lappé, Iowa farmer Ellen Walsh-Rosmann and Buddhist Global Relief! There’s even a nifty discussion guide for those who are having a hard time getting the conversation started. It’s a perfect time to get the family together for a nice autumn meal.

Food Day – Monday, October 24th

The difference between Food Day and World Food Day is subtle, but important. While World Food Day was organized by the United Nations, Food Day represents a more grassroots mobilization organized here in the United States. The event is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog group that does not accept government or corporate funding, and has fought for food labeling, better nutrition and safer food since 1971. Food Day is designed to bring Americans together to “push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.” The ultimate vision is to raise awareness about the link between good food, health, sustainability and farmworker justice.

Food Day is being promoted by high-profile national partners such as The Cooking Channel,, and, and several big events have been planned across the country. If you're in New York, you should check out the Union Square celebration, in conjunction with Grow NYC’s greenmarket. If you're in DC, visit The National Archives for a Food Day open house and the exhibition, “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?” which explores the government’s role in shaping the food system. is offering specific regional menu ideas for those hosting their own food day events and our very own Eat Well Guide has created a nifty Food Day widget for those with their own blogs and websites. The more you get the word out about Food Day, the more others will feel compelled to research why our food system matters.

Now is the time to contribute to this global dialogue. So many are feeling called to action, to share their knowledge and perspective – and the issue is so important, there are now TWO days to get the word out! Let’s take advantage of this unique opportunity to put our heads together in order to improve the food system, promote food justice and ensure a future of sustainable agriculture. Beginning is as easy as cooking a nice meal and having an important conversation with a friend.