With 3,000 employees and visitors stopping by the U.S. Department of Agriculture cafeterias on a daily basis, I was pleased to kick off the annual National Nutrition Month at the South Building Cafeteria at the USDA headquarters here in Washington today. I was joined by fellow USDA employees to introduce the 2010 theme “Green Nutrition—Local, Sustainable, Healthy Eating.” This year’s event and theme are special to us because Secretary Vilsack and I have made nutrition and healthy living a top priority at USDA through the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative.
Rafe Parker, a local farmer from Virginia, says it best -“I feel good when people are connected. Let’s face it, a lot of people don’t know where their food is coming from.” Fresh food grown locally is an important alternative to help make healthy food more easily available. Seventy percent of our health care costs can be attributed to lifestyle choices such as eating habits. By understanding where our food is coming from we can help each other make proper decisions about nutrition choices. By purchasing from local farmers, we are lending a hand to struggling rural communities and sending a clear message in our nation’s fight against obesity.
“Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” is a fundamental element of the Obama Administration’s efforts to promote access to healthier food. The Administration has made it a long term goal to combat obesity and First Lady Michelle Obama has recently launched the Let’s Move! initiative to eliminate childhood obesity by the next generation. Already, the administration has taken steps to improve school meals, financed an initiative to reduce food deserts, developed new research tools that detail local food environments and health outcomes, including grocery store access and disease and obesity prevalence, and engaged a broad range of public/private partnerships to solve America’s childhood obesity epidemic.
Learn more information about the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.”