Picnic marks first Food Day at UC Berkeley

Fikreselam Habebo/Staff
Food Day, a national event promoting healthy, sustainable food, was also celebrated on the UC Berkeley campus.

The lyrical strains of the California Golden Overtones, free whole grain bread samples and a picnic marked UC Berkeley’s celebration of the first Food Day Monday.

The event, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is designed to encourage sustainable food production and healthy eating and was celebrated nationwide and across the UC system.

“We want people to take away a newfound appreciation for their food, where it comes from, who’s creating their food and remembering that it’s not just this thing that appears,” said Kristen Rasmussen, worksite wellness dietitian for University Health Services. “It takes people to make it, and you have to appreciate the plants and animals you’re eating and the environmental impacts of your choices.”

Activities centered around University Health Services and Cal Dining’s chosen theme, “Eat Real, Eat Whole Grains,” included a picnic on the lawn of Sather Tower, tabling from student groups promoting sustainability — including the ASUC Sustainability Team and CALPIRG — and a local produce stand on Sproul Plaza.

Food Day National Campaign Manager Lilia Smelkova, who spoke about Food Day at the picnic event and has been involved in organizations promoting sustainable food production, said that the day could become an important symbol for the food movement.

”We hope that Food Day will do for the food movement what Earth Day did for the environmental movement,” Smelkova said. “We hope Food Day will be a moment for groups to dialogue.”

Smelkova added that she had seen a large amount of support for the day in the Bay Area.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer who has published a book about the food industry and who also spoke at the picnic, said Food Day is also a good opportunity to re-evaluate the political impact of eating choices.

“Every time we make a choice of how to eat, we make a political choice,” Simon said. “It’s an important way to bring many people together who are already working on the food system and bring new people in, because we can use all the help we can get.”