In advance of Food Day events planned nationwide, the Alliance for Food and Farming launched a “Meet a Real Farmer” initiative.

Set for Oct. 24, Food Day – sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, among others – promotes healthy, sustainably grown food in events planned nationwide.

The biggest rally is expected to be in New York’s Times Square. Event details are at the Food Day website.

Earlier in the month, the Watsonville, Calif.-based nonprofit Alliance – which represents both conventional and organic growers – invited food, health and environment writers to contact farmers in the lead-up to Oct. 24.

“When we saw the Food Day events happening, we noticed they were encouraging people to ‘Eat Real,’” said Marilyn Dolan, executive director for the Alliance. “They describe real as real fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in a sustainable fashion by farmers who have a commitment to the environment. Virtually every produce farmer we know fits that description.”

Alliance materials sent to writers did offer to arrange meetings with farmers, but encouraged media to seek out their own sources.

“There seem to be a lot of issues with trust,” Dolan said. “We wanted to promote this idea, but not be the ultimate facilitator. We feel a writer could reach out to any farmer and be surprised at how well they take care of the land and farm sustainably.”

“It will be interesting to see if anybody takes us up on this. We’ve been sending it to writers all week. They’ve not contacted us, but it’s possible they’re doing something on their own.”

“There’s a lot of talk today about organic, about farmers markets and buying local, which is great,” Dolan said. “But that’s not always possible. Real food is what’s in the produce department of every store in the country.”

Dole, Bolthouse Farms mark Food Day

Separately, Dole Food Co. and Bolthouse Farms are marking Food Day Oct. 24 with graphics on selected products.

Dole plans to put Food Day stickers on 100 million bananas.

“We’ve had an ongoing dialogue with the Center (for Science in the Public Interest),” said Marty Ordman, vice president of marketing and communications at Dole. “They have a school component, and we’ve been doing outreach to schools for a while. So when they called us about the event, we liked what it stood for – trying to get people to eat more healthy. We thought it was a unique platform to get the message out to people to eat more fruits and vegetables.”

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse Farms planned to put similar graphics on 11 million bags of carrots, according to a news release.

Food Day’s advisory board is chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. Others on the board include urban farming proponent Will Allen; author Michael Pollan; former surgeons general Richard Carmona and David Satcher; executive directors of the American Public Health Association and American Dietetic Association, and cookbook author Nina Simonds.

The Times Square event was to feature an “Eat Real Eat In” with 50 sustainability advocates, among them Mario Batali, Morgan Spurlock, Ellie Krieger and Marion Nestle.

The type of event varies by location, but “Eat Real” is a theme everywhere.

(CORRECTED Oct. 24:) Dole put the Food Day stickers on 100 million bananas; an incorrect number appeared in the original story.