Looking in: 13 resolutions for better food in 2013
Santa Fe New Mexican
By Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson
Many people are thinking about plans and promises to improve their diets and health. We think a broader collection of farmers, policymakers and eaters need new, bigger resolutions for fixing the food system — real changes with long-term impacts in fields, boardrooms and on plates all over the world. These are resolutions that the world can’t afford to break. We have the tools — let’s use them in 2013!
1. Growing in cities: Nearly 1 billion people worldwide produce food in cities. In Kenya, Kibera slum farmers are growing seeds of indigenous vegetables and selling them to rural farmers.
2. Creating better access: MoGro “Mobile Grocery” enterprise brings food trucks to food deserts and serves rural communities in New Mexico. Instead of chips and soda, they provide customers with affordable organic produce.
3. Eaters demanding healthier food: Food writer Michael Pollan advises not to eat anything that your grandparents wouldn’t recognize. Try eating more fruits, vegetables and whole foods without preservatives and other additives.
4. Cooking more: Home economics classes have declined in schools in the United Kingdom and the U.S., and young people lack basic cooking skills. Top chefs Jamie Oliver, Alice Waters and Bill Telepan are working with schools to teach kids how to cook healthy, nutritious foods.
5. Creating conviviality: Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. eat meals alone. Sharing a meal with family and friends can foster community and conversation. Recent studies find children who eat meals with their families are happier and more stable than those who do not.
6. Focus on vegetables: Nearly 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies worldwide. The World Vegetable Center, however, is helping farmers grow high-value, nutrient-rich vegetables in Africa and Asia, improving health and increasing incomes.
7. Preventing waste: Roughly one-third of all food is wasted — in fields, during transport and in homes. But there are easy, inexpensive ways to prevent waste. Initiatives like Love Food, Hate Waste offer consumers tips about portion control and recipes for leftovers.
8. Engaging youth: Making farming intellectually and economically stimulating will help make the food system an attractive career option for youth. Food Corps is teaching students how to grow and cook food, preparing them for a lifetime of healthy eating.
9. Protecting workers: Farm and food workers across the world are fighting for better pay and working conditions. In the United States, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers successfully persuaded Trader Joe’s and Chipotle to pay the premium of a penny-per-pound to Florida tomato pickers.
10. Acknowledging the importance of farmers: Farmers aren’t just farmers, they’re businesswomen and men, stewards and educators, sharing knowledge in their communities. Slow Food International works with farmers all over the world, helping recognize their importance to preserve biodiversity and culture.
11. Recognizing the role of governments: Nations must implement policies that give everyone access to safe, affordable, healthy food. In Ghana and Brazil, government action, including national school feeding programs and increased support for sustainable agricultural production, greatly reduced the number of hungry people.
12. Changing the metrics: Governments, NGOs and funders have focused on increasing production, rather than improving nutrition and protecting the environment. Changing the metrics, and focusing more on quality, will improve health and livelihoods.
13. Fixing the broken food system: Agriculture can be the solution to some of the world’s most pressing challenges — including unemployment, obesity and climate change. These innovations simply need more research, more investment and ultimately more funding.
Danielle Nierenberg is an expert on food and agriculture issues. She recently co-founded a new organization called Food Tank: The Food Think Tank (www.foodtank.org) with Ellen Gustafson, an expert on food and health and the co-founder of FEED Projects.