This Monday concluded Stony Brook’s first celebration of Food Day, the nationwide campaign to educate Americans about one of the most basic components of life- food. Food Day’s goals, listed at, include promoting safe, healthy foods, supporting sustainable farms and fair conditions for farm workers, expanding access to foods, and alleviating hunger.
The Food Day celebration kicked off on Sunday night with a short lecture by poet and farmer Scott Chaskey, followed by the screening of 3 documentaries: Community Bloom, Food Inc., and Forks Over Knives.
“The real reason I’m here is because I brought the garlic,” joked Chaskey as he stood up to speak that night. Chaskey, a short man with curly hair and a spectacular beard, talked about the importance of conservation and sustainable farming. “It fosters an acceptance and realization of what living on earth means,” he explained. “It’s about the food, of course, raising vegetables and fruits, but it’s also about community.”
Chaskey discussed the dishonesty so indicative of industrial agriculture, and the seedy conditions in which our food is raised. He talked about The Roots Project, a multi-year project that aims to get nutritious food to people who can’t normally afford it. He talked about the literature of the grassroots movement, from Shakespeare to Fukuoka to Michael Pollan. “This is just to give you an idea of things I’m thinking about when I’m riding in my tractor,” he added with a smile.
On Monday, the festivities continued with a myriad of free events, including a cooking demonstration by Marc Bynum, a Farmer’s market, and a garden work session at Stony Brook’s rooftop garden.
The garden, located on the fourth floor patio of the Health Sciences Center, was started in July.
Watermelon, kale, swiss chard, red basil, onions, tomatoes, beets, and turnips are among the fruits and vegetables recently harvested from the garden. This Monday, a handful of student volunteers helped clear the land and plant the garlic and rye seeds that Chaskey generously donated to the school.
Leah Holbrook, a dietician at Stony Brook who coordinated many of the Food Day events, stressed the importance of student involvement in their dining options on campus. “Students need to get involved in advocating for what they want,” she said, “advocating for changes.”
During his speech, Chaskey echoed those words, but with a much broader focus.“Let’s do it,” he said. “Let’s change it all.”