We only truly need a couple of things in this world, but too many citizens of the world take them for granted. One is food, something each human should value as individuals and as a citizen of the larger world. On Food Day, a national event concocted by and brought to us today (Oct. 24) by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, we should stop and think -- we are what we eat.

That phrase is cliche for a reason.

Seems like a given that most people know and care about this, but even in America we forgot for roughly half a century, for instance, that food mattered much at all. Take the tomato as an example. One of the more popular vegetables, the tomato is a good American example over time of what we've done right, what we've done wrong, and what we can do better in regard to food.

For many it began in the 1960s, our lack of care for tomato quality. Once transportation had become easy for most and trips to the grocery store were nothing and growing and shipping food across the country, or across the border even, the tomato found its lowest mark.

The grocery store tomato still sold in large numbers, and it was still round. But that's all that resembled the true goodness of a tomato. Yet Americans kept buying hard, flavorless tomatoes for decades without thinking it mattered at all until the local food movement gained traction.

Now, the tomato is making a comeback, and so are other fresh, quality foods thanks to movements like Food Day, celebrated today. In America, we are no longer as a whole in the food dark ages like the period that prevailed between the 1960s and recent years when quality and preservatives didn't seem to matter at all.

We'd slug anything down. And, we paid a dear price.

America's health declined, as obesity became an epidemic. Many awakened, realizing that fresh food and food without preservatives matters most -- just like clean air to breathe.

But we've got a long way to go. The enlightenment has begun, and the local food movement, and other initiatives to support food without preservatives is well underway, but so far it's been largely out of reach for many who need it most -- America's impoverished. Organic food often means expensive food.

And those wonderful, local grown tomatoes springing up all around these days? They taste great, but cost a bundle.

Meanwhile, studies have consistently shown that the higher a person's poverty level is, the lower their food quality is. And that's a shame, since poor nutrition only worsens the economic conditions keeping that person behind.

From school foods to foods available at neighborhood markets, we have to get fresh, healthy food available to the masses of this nation is America is to be a leader in the 21st century like it was in the 20th century. We are, after all, what we eat. At the moment, we are collectively over-nourished with bad and under-nourished with good.

Quality food should be available, and affordable, to the masses. That's why Food Day holds value. We need to be aware, and we need to do something about it.