World Food Day, October 16th

World Food Day occurs during the last part of the Jewish Thanksgiving, Succot. It is the celebration of the harvest and the building of a booth (a  sukkah) to eat outside during the week of this harvest holiday. Here is what Wikipedia says:

“The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which, according to the Torah, the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. A sukkah is also for the temporary dwelling in which agricultural workers would live during harvesting.”

This year is also a special Jewish calendar year, 5775, in that it is the final year of a seven year cycle when the land is supposed to be “released” from being planted to give it time to rest. It is actually a sabbatical for the land, called Shmita in Hebrew.

Since I feel these three events are related, I am posting them together.

First, World Food Day can be accessed through the website: The theme for this year is: Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth. During this month there are CROP hunger Walks in every state. If you fill in the space for your city and zip code, you can find a walk near you. The walks are used to raise funds for ending hunger.

Many years ago I was a volunteer for The Hunger Project. Its three statements were:

1. Hunger exists.
2. It doesn’t need to.
3. Each person can make a difference.

Succot also emphasizes food. Since my 10th wedding anniversary comes during the week of Succot, my husband and I will be in charge of the food for serving after the celebration of this harvest holiday. Here is a picture of a sukkah in Jerusalem from Wikipedia:

It is sometimes added to a wall of the house but it can also be freestanding, as is the one I helped
put together the day after Yom Kippor. (Pictures of that to come, I hope.)

As part of our anniversary celebration, I will be bringing envelopes from an organization called Mazon (food in Hebrew), which distributed food to people in America, regardless of their ethic/religious affiliation or non-affiliation. Succot seems a perfect time to emphasize that there are still many people in America who go to bed hungry.

Coupled with World Food Day, I think, makes a double emphasis on this fact. In an article in USA today that I kept from Feb. 3rd, 49 million Americans struggle against hunger.  This fact seems almost unbelievable when we are considered the wealthiest country in the world. While SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which replaced food stamps, certainly helps, according to the essay by Joel Berg,  Snap “serves too few people and its benefits are too meager.”

Finally, we come to a Sabbatical for the earth, something I am not sure is practiced greatly in the U.S. Allowing some of the farmland to lie fallow in order to give it a rest makes good sense to me. Whether farmers feel they can afford to do that is an issue I know little about, but from an ecological viewpoint seems valid.

I Googled this topic and found an excellent article in Here is a short quote: “Letting farmlands lie fallow is one of the best ways of allowing the land to replenish its nutrients, and regain its fertility, without having to resort to the application of fertilizers.  It is an important component of crop rotation. And leaving the land fallow also prevents erosion, as the roots of the plants left to grow on the land help to hold the soil against the ravages of wind and rain.”

One of the ways to accomplish this when farmers feel they cannot afford to do so is to stop raising animals for food, according to this article.  And since October was World Vegetarian Day, here is an unexpected tie-in on my part. Here is another part of this article that addresses this issue:

“If the farmer wants to put his farmland to its highest and best use the first thing he has to do is to stop using it to grow food for livestock. He’ll make far more money in the long run if his land is used to grow food for humans.”

By helping people change their food choices, that is, eat less meat to free up more land, maybe farmers could place a portion of their land on sabbatical and allow Mother Earth to renew herself. Perhaps you can celebrate World Food Day by making a donation to your local food pantry and eating a meatless meal.

These are some of my thoughts as I ponder the links among World Food Day, World Vegetarian Day, Succot, and Shmita (sabbatical). Comments and suggestions welcome.

My wish is that every person on the planet need not be hungry!

2 thoughts on “World Food Day, October 16th

  1. Very interesting article. Education about the benefits of “clean” food ought to be a requirement in our schools and how to budget your money wisely so you consider your health first and foremost which is dependent on eating a balanced nutritious diet. Unfortunately many farmers inadvertently “strip the land,” especially with crops like corn. Rotation of crops is essential to build up the soil again. The farmer that leases our land paid little attention to the quality of the soil until we moved here.
    We don’t allow him to plant corn anymore or use pesticides and insist on organic fertilizers. We’re willing to compromise some income in order to be good stewards of the land. Our soil is in much richer now, and yields more grain.

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