I've received a news release this week about the world having to "make room" for the 7 billionth person entering life on this blue orb, and I have to admit it does sound like a lot of folks. 

This is from World Watch:

As the global population surpasses 7 billion people sometime around the end of October, addressing the challenges associated with a still-growing world population will require a two-pronged response. The combined measures of empowering women to make their own decisions about childbearing and significantly reducing global consumption of energy and natural resources would move humanity toward rather than further away from environmentally sustainable societies that meet human needs.

But demographics of the "world' are impossible to be considered as one. Each nation tells its own tale, notes this interview with a Swiss demographics expert Philippe Warner at www.swissinfo.ch.


swissinfo.ch
: On October 31 the Earth’s population will cross the seven billion threshold according to the United Nations Population Fund. Is this cause for humanity to celebrate or lament?

Philippe Wanner: It’s rather good news because this trend is the result of a series of favourable conjunctions: a decrease in the infant mortality rate on the one hand, and the growth in life expectancy on the other. The number of survivors at all ages is growing and I consider that a positive thing.


swissinfo.ch: The realities are very different from one country or region to another. The African population could triple in a century to reach 3.6 billion, while the Russian population is shrinking. Can we really talk about a global population?

P.W.: No, this notion is absolutely not relevant. As well as the realities you cite, there is also another fundamental reality: migration. Europe will depopulate, that is for sure, while Asia still cannot control its demographic growth. This century is marked by very significant demographic imbalances. When you have strong demographic pressure on one side and on the other side a lack of workers, migratory flows are inevitable.

What, the global population is not relevant? A higher population is "positive"?  Scandal!

At the same time of the cautionary "7 billion" note pinged in my inbox, my Outlook mail was lighting up with a myriad of emails about "Food Day" on Oct. 24. Evidently I should care - and care a lot - about this movement sponsored by Science in the Public Interest for "delicious food grown in a sustainable and humane way." Just what is "sustainable and humane"?

Another release hyping Food Day touted "healthy, affordable and sustainable food."

From the release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Thousands of people are demanding sustainable food in their local communities ahead of the first ever Food Day by starting and joining campaigns on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change.

Tens of thousands of individuals and organizations have already begun supporting sustainable food through campaigns on Change.org. Healthy Child, Healthy World, a food-focused nonprofit, launched an online campaign urging Campbell’s Soup to phase out the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from its packaging; a Texas animal rescuer created a campaign asking Governor Rick Perry to save struggling ranchers and starving horses by using state resources to bring hay to Texas; and a Maryland farmer started an online campaign to prevent his 31-year-old organic farm from being turned into private soccer fields.

 

Gee, it seems like Food Day is much more than "thank a farmer day." Food Day activists want social change, of course, and all kinds of outcomes -, not the least of which includes stopping the construction of a Maryland soccer field. Food Day can mean whatever meaning it can be credibly assigned.

In that vein, The Alliance for Food and Farming asks the media to remember the farmer on Food Day.

From an alliance news release:

MEET A REAL FARMER INITIATIVE TO LAUNCH ON “FOOD DAY”

(Watsonville, CA) In support of the October 24th Food Day event being organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, U.S. fruit and vegetable farmers are encouraging the media to give them a call.  Because most people don’t get out to visit a farm, the Alliance for Food and Farming is encouraging reporters who cover food, health and environmental issues to “meet a real farmer who grows real food for real people.”  And then introduce these farmers to their readers, viewers and listeners.

“Who better to inform people about how their food is grown than the farmers themselves,” says Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  “For many Americans, how their food is grown can be a mystery and it shouldn’t be.  This is why we’re asking for the media’s help in providing people with better information about farming and who is growing their food.”

 According to the Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit organization comprised of both conventional and organic fruit and vegetable farmers, the produce industry is very much in favor of Food Day’s ultimate goal which is to get Americans to “eat real.” The hope is to improve the American diet by encouraging consumption of healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables produced in a sustainable way.

By all accounts, one of the best ways to accomplish this goal is for consumers to get to know the people who grow their food.  This is not exclusive to their local farmers or those who sell at community farmers markets, but also the farmers who produce healthy food options that are accessible every day through grocery stores and restaurants where people shop or eat every day.

In the case of the Meet a REAL Farmer initiative, farmers will speak out for themselves so they can let people know the real story about how fruits and vegetables are grown.  For example:

 

  •  Fruit and vegetable farmers tend to be small to mid-sized operations rather than large corporations.
  • They are often family-run businesses which have been operating for generations.
  •  Fruit and vegetable farmers are not commonly recipients of government subsidies.
  • They are ALL local farmers in their own communities and contribute to the local economies where they do business.
  • Virtually all fruit and vegetable farmers practice sustainable farming, and incorporate methods such as crop rotation and Integrated Pest Management.
  • Many grow both conventional and organic produce.
  • Further, fruits and vegetables are some of the most highly regulated foods in the world regarding food safety.
  • Most importantly, health experts around the world agree that people should be eating more fruits and vegetables for good health.

 

Here's hoping that some media outlets took advantage of the alliance offer to connect with a real farmer on Food Day. After all, that's what Food Day is about, isn't it? Isn't it?