SMC's Food Day event encourages healthy eats

The third annual Food Day celebration was held on Santa Monica College's main campus next to the Organic Learning Garden, as part of Sustainability Week, on Thursday, Oct. 24. Kathleen Green, organizer for this year’s event, is helping to educate students on healthy and affordable food while addressing how food can be produced agriculturally in a more sustainable way.

One reason for her efforts is that the typical American diet contributes to obesity, diabetes and heart disease which cause health problems that cost more than 150 billion dollars a year, according to the Food Day website. As a result, this generation of children is predicted to be the first to die at a younger age than their parents.

Two thirds of adults in the United States are obese or overweight with the largest obesity rates occurring in children and minorities, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Food Day's goals are to "[Cut] back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein. Food Day envisions shorter lines at fast food drive-thrus— and bigger crowds at farmers markets," according to the website.

Occurring in 50 states across the nation, Food Day is in its third year and has over 4,500 events throughout the month of October to maintain awareness. It offers ways to purchase organic products conveniently and inexpensively in bulk or bit sizes, also according to Food Day's website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped develop a strategy to improve access and increase consumption.

Part of the strategy is to spread awareness of the necessity of fruits and vegetables along with the access and availability in retail stores, community-supported agricultural programs, at home, in schools, and in the workplace to increase consumption while maintaining fruits and vegetables in emergency food programs.

Alyssa Lee, project director of Student Food Collective at the University of California, Los Angeles,was on hand at the event. The project, also known as the UCLA Co-Op, is part of a consortium that buys preferred food in bulk at affordable prices to maintain affordability of organic, healthy foods. It assures affordable prices and availability for the community as a whole.

“I liked the food samples, and I like that they have a co-op going on,” said Izza Bello, a physics student at SMC. “I have friends from other states that do that so it’s nice to have it over here in the city."

As part of the city’s sustainability goals, Santa Monica participates with the CalFresh Program that allows recipients a monthly allowance based on the person's household size. According to the CalFresh Outreach Food for People website, anyone who spends $10 with a CalFresh EBT card at a farmers market receives a one day bonus of $5 in farmers market credit.

“It gives low income people 10 extra dollars to buy healthy food at farmers markets, and it helps the farmers out as well,” said Frank Tamborello, director of Hunger Action Los Angeles.

A Food Day volunteer Kathy Turk does farmers market recovery by picking up food that farmers do not take back to the farm, and delivering it to food pantries across the city.

“It’s perfectly good and edible,” she said. "Prior to our coming there, they got very little fresh food. Typically, canned food and boxed food, and now they get fresh food like herbs and onions and greens, you name it. Kale we gave out a lot of kale this week.“

Steven Wynbrandt, a connoisseur of compost at the Wynbrandt Farm and Wynbrandt Biodynamic Compost nearby, takes organic matter of all different kinds of compost, cow manure and alfalfa hay transformed by a process of alchemy.

Different kinds of organic matter mixed with carbon and nitrogen add moisture under the right conditions, and the organic matter heats up and ferments and produces macrobiotic life, Wynbrandt said.

"Whether it starts as a banana peel and turns into a dark, uniformed and earthy soil, it is soil because you can grow food in it," he said. "But it’s not traditional composting."

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