For four years, the Food and Nutrition and Environment Sections have collaborated around public health issues at the intersection of food, agriculture and environment.
Public health issues, as described in the Association's new (2007)
position paper "Towards a Healthy, Sustainable Food System,"
and earlier policy statements, arise from intertwined factors including: the industrialization of agriculture; its intensive use of water, antibiotics, chemical inputs, fossil fuels and other resources; focus on processed foods; overproduction of certain crops and efforts to find mouths to eat them; inadequate regulation and enforcement of food safety, worker health and other processes; inadequate distribution infrastructures for healthy foods; and an often low wage and immigrant work force and powerful agribusiness firms.
This industrialized food system has nutritional and environmental health implications, including its contribution to the lack of access to healthy foods and to obesity, and also leads to food safety threats, climate change, environmental pollution and depletion, and the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections.
Public health professionals are increasingly at the forefront of challenging these threats, and at the forefront of promoting alternatives. Food and environment issues continue to gain visibility and traction with increased public interest in local and sustainably produced foods, the obesity epidemic, the recent passage of the Farm Bill, and the international crisis of rising food prices.
Bridging sections, the APHA "Food and Environment Working Group" has sought to encourage interdisciplinary scientific, social and policy interchange and ultimately to work towards broader public health community engagement in food/environment issues. Four years ago, the group began efforts to bring people together through the APHA scientific program; we have continued to highlight sessions of joint interest, now formalized in a joint track of sessions. To encourage informal interchange, we've also organized social events. Two years ago at APHA in Boston, at least 70 people attended an evening event featuring locally sourced food and wines. At last year's conference in D.C., more than 100 came out to Clyde's of Gallery Place to eat, drink and share ideas. The event coincided with the APHA's August 2007 W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to support organizing in selected communities around public health and agricultural policy issues.
Planning is well under way for the 2008 social event, to be held on
Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 6:30. We hope you will join us to sample San Diego's freshest and local-est. We are also seeking to raise money to bring individuals engaged in the San Diego food system to the conference, and to support other activities to build the profile of food and agriculture issues within public health. Many of us are already looking to "Farm Bill 2013" and developing activities aimed at building a stronger and more influential public health voice in the debates.
Stay tuned for information about participating in San Diego activities.
If you're interested in joining our active working group, e-mail Roni