Washington, DC - Food Tank is highlighting stories of hope, innovation, and success in creating a better food system. From women’s land access in Chad and urban green spaces in Australia to chefs in the United Kingdom and the United States implementing local, sustainable food sourcing there are thousands of innovations giving us hope about the future of food.
Food Tank is featuring 101 bright spots in the food system that we hope will inspire eaters, businesses, researchers, scientists, funders, donors, and policy makers to create and support a more sustainable food system.
1. Founder and Director of Leaf for Life David Kennedy highlights how eaters and consumers can take responsibility for their health and incorporate more leafy greens into kitchen gardens in his book Eat Your Greens.
2. According to Solar Cookers International, solar ovens help reduce toxic emissions and reduce greenhouse gases, improving both human and environmental health. Solar Cooker at CantinaWest provides resources to find solar cooking classes in eighteen states in the U.S.
3. Chef Dan Barber, co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, wrote The Third Plate to radically change America’s cuisine by moving past farm-to-table. In the book he proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating.
4. Chef José Andres’ Think Food Group is bringing together healthy food advocates from around the globe. The World Central Kitchen empowers people to focus on smart solutions to hunger and poverty.
5. Chef Barton Seaver and nutritional scientist P.K. Newby produced National Geographic Food for Health for everyday healthy eating for both people and the planet. It features 148 foods that have high nutritional value and little impact on the environment.
6. Permaculture Voices brings together leading scientists, business leaders, and political minds, including Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, Allan Savory, and more, for a series of lectures and information sharing on permaculture practices. This year the conference will be held in San Diego, CA on March 4-8, 2015.
7. The James Beard Foundation, in partnership with Food Tank, released the 1st annual Good Food Org Guide last year to highlight nonprofit organizations that are doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. We’re updating the Guide this year, so please send us your suggestions!
8. Debra Eschmeyer, co-founder of Food Corps, replaced Sam Kass as the Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Nutrition Policy. “For more than a decade, Deb has been leading the way in teaching kids about the importance of healthy eating,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in a White House press release.
9. Celebrity chef and co-founder of Food Policy Action, Tom Colicchio, became the first ever food correspondent for MSNBC and will report on the food movement.
10. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) released a report providing an overview of local and regional food systems. The results showed many consumers are willing to pay a premium for local food, and the number of state laws supporting local food has increased.
11. Over the last decade, the area of organic farmland in the European Union increased by 500,000 hectares each year.
12. Women make up 24 percent of organic farm managers in the European Union and 41 percent in Latvia.
13. The draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) includes steps to take action to combat climate change and now includes protection and sustainable use of the planet’s oceans and sea life.
14. Women chefs who use sustainable local ingredients were featured in the February issue of ELLE Magazine, including chef Mashama Bailey, two-time James Beard Award winner Traci Des Jardins, and Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard.
15. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, covering 150 million acres, is phasing out the use of genetically modified crops and neonicotinoids on farms by 2016. The Fish and Wildlife Service was the first federal agency to restrict the use of these harmful practices. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands have also banned bee-killing insecticides.
16. The U.N. General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS) to increase awareness and understanding of the many important roles of soil.
17. The expansion of urban agriculture projects and initiatives like Incredible Edible in the United Kingdom, Growing Power in Milwaukee and Chicago, and Sydney Green Square in Australia, show the growth of vibrant and sustainable urban environments.
18. In India, the organization Navdanya conserves more than 5,000 heirloom crop varieties, including vegetables and medicinal plants, helping preserve agricultural biodiversity and improving resilience to climate change.
19. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) organizes work exchange program in more than 60 countries, allowing would-be gardeners to learn organic and sustainable agricultural practices while travelling around the world.
20. To commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the Meatrix, GRACE is releasing an updated version of the movie The Meatrix: Relaunched on March 7 at TEDxManhattan.
21. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is recommending for the first time that the government should consider the environment when telling Americans what they should eat.
22. The film Food Chains sheds light on the human rights violations that occur in the lives of the farm workers who pick 125 million kilograms (280 million pounds) of fresh fruits and vegetables a day across the United States. Here are ten ways consumers can fight for fair labor practices in America.
23. An increasing number of participatory online tools such as Fruitmap and PlantCatching are making it easier for people to access fresh, locally grown food in their communities.
24. Food Policy Action was founded by food policy leaders, including Chef Tom Colicchio, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group, and Gary Hirshberg, the Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, to hold legislators accountable on legislation that affects food and farming.
25. The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) promotes the development of appropriate agricultural policies in order to reduce poverty, enhance food security, and promote sustainable agricultural development in Africa.
26. Underexploited indigenous foods like jackfruit and sand rice are offering solutions for food security in the face of climate change by surviving in poor soil conditions.
27. 1% for Women is making it easier for women farmer and ranchers to sustainably get involved in creating global change by providing micro loans.
28. Food rescue initiatives like the Pig Idea in London and Food Recovery Network in the United States are working to recycle food waste from supermarkets, restaurants, and universities.
29. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom operates a vast seed bank project, which preserves wild relatives of crucial crops to protect food security against the threat of climate change.
30. Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador, and Olivier De Schutter proposed a national food policy for the United States to guarantee everyone has access to healthy food; farm policies support public health; the food supply is bacteria-, chemical-, and drug-free; marketing and production are transparent; food workers are paid fair wages; animals are treated fairly; and the system supports the health of children.
31. Slow Meat is a movement that brings together ranchers, farmers, butchers, chefs, and eaters to celebrate and share ideas on how we produce meat that is good, clean, and fair for all. Slow Food will host the second Slow Meat event June 4-6, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
32. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), insects have promising potential as an alternative protein food source, with both environmental and health benefits.
33. Diversified, organic, and agroecological agricultural systems can compete head-to-head with conventional agriculture, according to a recent report by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
34. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, students from the University of Sarajevo are conducting intercropping and hydroponics field experiments in order to improve the quality and quantity of food produced in the country.
35. A new study by Newcastle University on organic versus conventional crops confirms that organic farming methods do have a positive impact on health. Results found substantially higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides in organic crops versus conventional crops.
36. In Syria, raising backyard poultry has helped citizens find a sustainable way to maintain local food security and nutrition.
37. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is implementing projects in the western Chad region of Kanem that give land access to women groups for food production. Greater access to land has led to improved agricultural production, higher incomes, and a decrease in malnutrition.
38. Audra Mulkern has her lens focused on the unique perspective of women in agriculture. With The Female Farmer Project, Mulkern shines the spotlight on women in agriculture throughout the world, chronicling the rise of the female farmer.
39. Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) is one of many networks across the world connecting young people and promoting agriculture as a career option. YPARD has developed e-services for information dissemination as well as mentorship programs, workshops, and trainings for youth. Other organizations like Greenhorns support new farmers in the United States, and the National Young Farmer Coalition engages and trains young farmers.
40. The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative is recognizing the importance of soil to sustainable agriculture and committed to understanding what happens beneath our feet. They’ve developed a platform for promoting and translating expert knowledge on soil biodiversity into policy and land management.
41. The Savory Institute advocates for healing the land through holistic livestock management and promotes the creation of a symbiotic relationship between animals and the land.
42. Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan will join AGree as co-chair and help identify new approaches to food and agriculture policy that support diverse interests.
43. The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) is developing an online resource, Agroecological Intensification Exchange (AEIx), to encourage integration of agroecological principles in agricultural systems.
44. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has implemented the Food Wastage Footprint project, designed to address food loss and waste using the concept of full-cost accounting, which emphasizes the inclusion of all costs, including environmental and societal, into the price of food.
45. The Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (URDT) is the first African university initiative dedicated to providing technical agricultural training for women.
46. The World Agroforestry Centre has discovered that diverse forestry systems—forests that contain different types of trees—are an effective measure against soil erosion.
47. In New York, the Design Trust for Public Space developed the Five Borough Farm Data Collection Toolkit for collecting and interpreting urban farms data. Developed in collaboration with farmers, the toolkit is a part how-to guide and part reference guide for urban farming.
48. More restaurants are becoming sustainable in 2015. See TakePart’s Tastemakers, a list of 100 food-focused businesses dedicated to local, sustainable, organic, humane, and unprocessed foods.
49. GRACE Communication’s Eat Well Guide helps diners find resources on sustainable agriculture and makes sustainable food choices easier.
50. The New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference last year convened more than 200 attendees for one and half days to explore the most pressing food challenges, including how to feed a growing population and ensuring healthy, nutritious diets for everyone on the planet.
51. In three years the Fight for 15 has spread to several hundred U.S. cities and is demanding a minimum wage increase to US$15 per hour. During November elections, four states—Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Alaska—passed ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage.
52. The Livestock Conservancy ensures the health and biosecurity of heritage and traditional livestock and poultry breeds.
53. The Chicago Council’s Nutrition Task Force will be releasing a new report on April 16, 2015 at the Global Food Security Symposium. The report is accompanied by a campaign, “Healthy Food for a Healthy World,” aimed on building awareness of the important role food plays in health and nutrition.
54. New farmers’ organizations that match young farmers with seasoned mentors are growing in popularity, such as Iowa State’s volunteer mentor program, the National Farmers Union’s Beginning Farmer Institute, and the National Farmers Union.
55. The Rainforest Alliance now provides a grade-specific curriculum to educate young people about biodiversity conservation in the world’s rainforests.
56. Seattle, Washington recently passed a city law that makes it illegal to put food in trash cans. The law is meant to reduce overall waste and increase the percentage of recycling and compost.
57. The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) launched the Milan Protocol at the 2013 International Forum. The protocol will promote healthy lifestyles and fight obesity, promote sustainable agriculture, and aim to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2050. The protocol will be signed at Expo Milano, which will be open May 1 to October 31, 2015 in Milan, Italy.
58. Fazenda da Toca, founded by former Formula 1 race car driver Pedro Paulo Diniz, is a large-scale family-owned organic farm in Brazil changing the future of ecological agriculture by harmonizing production and preservation.
59. More and Better unites members in developing countries to increase the level and quality of support for agriculture and rural development from the national governments.
60. FarmNet, in New York, provides prevention and crisis assistance measures for farmers facing mental health issues such as depression. They offer free, confidential consulting services and operate a hotline for farmers in distress.
61. The Land Institute is working on the development of mixed-perennial-grain crops to restore the planet’s natural landscape.
62. Restaurants like Noma, in Denmark, are foraging foods for an uber-local and sustainable dining experience. And people like Kevin Feinstein are teaching eaters and consumers how to forage on their own. Forage Kitchen is a space for artisan food makers to become successful entrepreneurs.
63. National Geographic investigated the Future of Food in an eight-month series about strategies to feed a growing population without overwhelming the planet.
64. Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United’s 2014 Diners Guide to Ethical Eating highlights the employee standards of the most popular restaurants in America and encourages consumers to engage with restaurant management about raising the minimum service wage.
65. Teruo Higa, a professor in the agricultural department of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan, is fermenting household food waste and using it in gardens and farms around the world to boost their output.
66. Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) has created a network connecting women in the agricultural industry to each other and to useful resources.
67. Chef, founder of Wholesome Wave, and two-time James Beard award winner Michel Nischan delivered an inspiring keynote at the 1st annual Food Tank Summit.
68. Scientists have compiled the first soil atlas of Africa to help the general public, policymakers, land users, and scientists understand and manage the continent’s key resource.
69. Slow Food International has dedicated a new guide to seeds. The guide, “Seeds According to Slow Food,” helps farmers and gardeners preserve seeds, determine where the seeds come from, and how they were chosen or produced.
70. The John Besh Foundation provides scholarships, grants, and loans to promising individuals and organizations in the New Orleans community. Loans ranging from US$1,000 to US$20,000 are available to farmers within a 200-mile radius of New Orleans, Louisiana.
71. The Christensen Fund partners with indigenous communities, scholars, artists, and activists to support projects that promote biodiversity and traditional cultures.
72. Food-X partnered with ten early-stage accelerator companies to bring out their best potential and take them and their products and services successfully to market.
73. Remmi Smith, 14, was inspired by the childhood obesity epidemic to cook healthy, delicious food. Smith has launched an online cooking show and a spin-off, published a cookbook, and had her products sold at Whole Foods—all before starting high school.
74. Instagram, one of the fastest-growing and powerful emerging social media networks, is inspiring eaters and consumers to help cultivate a better food system.
75. As part Panera Bread’s commitment to have a positive impact on the food system and provide transparency, the company will eliminate use of antibiotics in its entire pork supply—approximately 3.6 million kilograms (8 million pounds)—and will no longer use gestation crates for pregnant sows by January 2015.
76. Region-specific food labels, like ASAP’s Appalachian Grown, now allow consumers in Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian Mountains to identify foods that are grown locally and organically.
77. Real Food Challenge (RFC) student organizers just scored their latest campaign win at the University of Utah, securing a purchasing commitment to twenty percent “real food”—defined as local, fair, humane, and ecologically sound—by 2020.
78. Culinary Misfits seeks out the ugly vegetables at grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants and turns them into delectable dishes at the events they cater in the city.
79. In Italy, Last Minute Market works with farmers, processing centers, grocery stores, and other food sellers to reclaim food. LMM now runs food donation programs in more than 40 Italian communities.
80. The Wallace Center at Winrock International is promoting regional, collaborative efforts to connect more people to healthy, green, fair, and affordable food.
81. The Postharvest Education Foundation’s postharvest management guide is available in 10 languages, featuring topics such as how to choose the best time for harvest and the advantages of different transportation methods.
82. Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, Louisiana creates job opportunities for high school students in the field of urban agriculture through a nineteen-week program, during which youth participants learn a variety of skills related to growing, cooking, and selling organic vegetables and fruit.
83. According to a publication by IEA Bioenergy, some eight million small-scale digesters are being used in China, and 50,000 digesters are being used in rural communities in Nepal to create a valuable fertilizer from decomposed organic waste.
84. In Australia, the initiative SecondBite collects surplus food that is safe and edible from farmers to donate to community groups, who then distribute it to households. SecondBite has, to date, rescued nearly eight million kilograms of food that would have been otherwise wasted.
85. Filmed in southern Arizona, “Man in the Maze” features advocate, writer, and conservationist Gary Paul Nabhan, and unveils how to feed a hungry planet. The story highlights how food activists, farmers, and change-makers are coming up with innovative solutions to fix the food system.
86. Timberland, in partnership with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), made a pledge to plant 5 million trees in Haiti within a five-year period using a community-based agroforestry model.
87. For the past eight years, The Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation has been funding food waste issues and has helped Sustainable America build a website to give the public tools and suggestions on how they can help reduce food waste.
88. The Center for Studies and Development of Cambodian Agriculture (CEDAC) supports agricultural innovations and techniques, including Ecological Chicken Raising (ECR), pig raising, home gardening, aquaculture, composting, and multi-purpose farming for women.
89. Veteran chef Robert Clark and marine biologist Mike McDermid partnered up to create The Fish Counter, which sources seafood from a motley crew of “salt of the earth” fishermen and women, each committed to a sustainable Pacific Northwest fishery.
90. Fair Trade tea company Bhakti Chai invests in female tea pickers in India who belong to the Self-Employed Women’s Association to give 90 percent of earnings back to their families and communities so that their daughters can receive an education.
91. In Vancouver, Canada Growing Chefs works with chef-volunteers in elementary school classrooms to plant gardens, harvest vegetables, and teach basic cooking skills.
92. Innovators, companies, and investors are coming together at Seeds&Chips in Milan on March 26, 2015 to discuss food and digital technologies.
93. Sustainable Rural Development improves and implements efficient and sustainable farming practices throughout Vietnam, bolstering community organizations and empowering local farmers.
94. The Farmstand app allows users to search for community farmers markets in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
95. The Sustainable Agriculture Project in Haiti has planted four model farms in the regions of Cap-Rouge and Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite, which offer organic farming training to aspiring farmers.
96. The Bangladesh Federal Agriculture Organization (FAO) is currently working on a project to promote food security in the country through enhanced agricultural production, as well as the promotion of diversified sources of income and value addition.
97. The Seafood Watch app makes sustainable choices in seafood easier. It offers recommendations along with information on optimal farming or fishing practices for sushi and seafood. It can be used at restaurants and markets to make ocean-friendly seafood choices.
98. Chef Melissa Kelly, executive chef and proprietor of Primo in Rockland, Maine, operates four acres of land that includes vegetables, several poultry breeds, and nine pigs that supply the restaurant with about 80 percent of its products at the height of the season.
99. In September 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1087 into law, which will require sexual harassment prevention training for farm labor contractors, supervisors, and employees. It is a step in safeguarding female farmworkers in California.
100. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, using the Fair Food Program, has pressured the growers that produce 90 percent of Florida’s tomatoes to increase wages for 30,000 workers.
101. At the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit in September, the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge was announced by some of the world’s leading palm oil producers and consumers, committing to sustainable palm oil production.