14 Questions that Could Save Your Life and the Planet

man drinking juice

Prostock-studio - stock.adobe.com.

Web App Scores Diets on Health, Animal Welfare, and Environmental Impact

Fourteen simple questions about your food and drink may save your life and the planet, according to organizers of Food Day, who today launched an online social tool that grades the health, animal welfare, and environmental impacts of users' diets. "14 Questions that Could Save Your Life and the Planet" asks consumers how many servings of various foods they eat, whether they choose organic, and how much alcohol they consume. Users are given a number and letter grade and are prompted to share their score on Twitter and Facebook.

"14 Questions" comes as activists around the country gear up for Food Day on October 24. The third annual Food Day will feature thousands of events in all 50 states aimed at promoting healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food. While visiting FoodDay.org, users are encouraged to find events near them, or to pin their own big or small Food Day events on the site's interactive map.

"The typical American diet is heavy on salty packaged foods, high-fat meat and dairy products, and sugary drinks, and deficient in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains," said Food Day founder and Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Besides promoting heart disease, our meat intake also exacts a considerable toll on the environment and all too often on the animals themselves. The answers to these 14 questions point the way to a longer life and a healthier planet."

Food Day is led by an advisory board that includes some of the nation's top chefs, physicians, nutrition authorities, and food movement leaders, including former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler, cookbook author Ellie Krieger, writer Michael Pollan, Growing Power founder Will Allen, and chefs José Andres, Alice Waters, and Dan Barber. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) serve as honorary co-chairs. Like CSPI, Food Day accepts no corporate donations or advertising but does invite corporations to participate in their own way.

Food Day 2013 will have a special emphasis on teaching kids to cook. In addition to many other educational events, some Food Day events will be devoted to mobilizing support for policies that support healthier diets and sustainable and organic agriculture, reduce hunger, reform factory farms, and support fair working conditions for food and farm workers.

"We've all heard the expression 'we are what we eat,'" said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, whose latest book, Disease Proof, will be released this week. "That is literally true with regard to the health of our bodies, but the implications reach far beyond our own skin. What we eat says something about who we are, what we care about, and whether or not the fate of the planet and our fellow creatures matter to us. By combining these issues into a common metric, this web app, like Food Day itself, invites us to reflect on all the ways our food choices matter—and empowers us to improve them."