Whitney's Manifesto

Mahatma Gandhi once said: "You must be the change you want to see in the world." I am encouraging each and every single one of you to live by this quote. While I feel change needs to be made on thousands of levels, today I am writing about one in particular: the food industry. After viewing the film Food Inc., I truly felt inspired to share with you the devastating truth I just became aware of. I am aware that going to see this film is not on many people's agenda, trust me I had my eyes closed for many parts of it, but ignorance is not always bliss.

We truly live in a corrupt world; a world that values money more than an individual's life. I am a victim to this lifestyle and so are you; it is inevitable, unless we each take the initiative to change our habits. Instead of confusing you (and myself) with lengthy sentences, I am just going to state a few very important facts (all courtesy of foodincmovie.com):

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million Americans are sickened, 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die each year from food-borne illnesses.

• High-calorie, sugar-laden processed foods coupled with our sedentary lifestyles are growing our waistlines and contributing to serious health issues like diabetes, heart ailments, and cancers. One-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

• Approximately 10 billion animals (chickens, cattle, hogs, ducks, turkeys, lambs, and sheep) are raised and killed in the U.S. annually. Nearly all of them are raised on factory farms under inhumane conditions. These industrial farms are also dangerous for their workers, pollute surrounding communities, are unsafe to our food system, and contribute significantly to global warming.

• Some of our most important staple foods have been fundamentally altered, and genetically engineered meat and produce have already invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries.

• Cancers, autism, and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides, especially among farm workers and their communities.

• The average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store; and that transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

• In January 2008 the FDA approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, despite the fact that Congress voted twice in 2007 to delay the FDA's decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies could be completed.

• Approximately 1 billion people worldwide do not have secure access to food, including 36 million in the U.S.

To sum all of this up: our food industry is a monopoly of corrupt corporations that don't give a shit about you or me.

Their only concern is to make more money so they don't become one of you or me. We are all victims to this world. Think about it, we buy what is fast and cheap, and I hate to say it, but tasty. Then we start feeling bad, so we have to go to the doctor. The doctor says we need this medicine to cure that illness. We would rather not live in a painful state so we rush to the closest Walgreens and spend the majority of our paychecks on a medicine to cure a disease that we inflicted upon ourselves. And who is getting this money? The people in charge.

The world is not functioning how it should be. But just think, if you make a few simple changes, who knows, maybe our future and our generation's futures will benefit greatly from your contribution. Here are a few easy changes you can personally make within your current lifestyle:

• Sustainable foods can be found in your community by purchasing organic and/or locally grown produce and products. It's easy to find farmer's markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs, restaurants, and more with the user-friendly Eat Well Guide.

• Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages. You can lose 25 pounds in a year by replacing one 20-ounce soda a day with a no-calorie beverage (preferably water).

• Eat at home instead of eating out. Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.

• Support the passage of laws requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards. Half of the leading chain restaurants provide no nutritional information to their customers.

• Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks. Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

• Meatless Mondays; go without meat one day a week. An estimated 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals.

• Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides. According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

• Protect family farms; visit your local farmer's market. Farmer's markets allow farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

• Make a point to know where your food comes from; read labels. The average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

• Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections. Poverty among farm workers is more than twice that of all wage and salary employees.

Thanks for reading. Love yourself. Make a change.

Whitney Novak