Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank provides these suggestions for improving our lives and our food systems:
As we enter 2014, there are still nearly one billion people suffering
from hunger. Simultaneously, 65 percent of the world's population live
in countries where obesity kills more people than those who are
underweight. But these are problems that we can solve and there's a lot to be done in the new year!
2014 was declared the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) by the
U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food Tank is honored and
excited to be collaborating with FAO around highlighting how farmers are
more than just food producers--they're teachers, innovators,
entrepreneurs, environmental stewards, and change-makers!
And negotiations are continuing around the new Sustainable Development
Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. It's
our hope that the new goals will help not only reduce hunger and
poverty, but find ways to improve nutrient density and improve farmers'
In addition, the issue of food loss and food waste is gaining ground thanks
to the U.N.'s Zero Hunger Challenge, which calls for zero food waste,
as well as the good work of many organizations including the Natural
Resources Defense Council, Feeding the 5000, the U.N. Environment
Programme, and WastedFood.com who are showing eaters, businesses, and
policy-makers solutions for ending waste in the food system.
And youth are taking the lead in pushing for a more
sustainable food system. Young people like Edward Mukiibi, who is
helping Slow Food International's 1,000 Garden in Africa's program gain
momentum. In addition, the Young Professionals for Agriculture Research
and Development (YPARD) is helping connect agronomists, farmers,
researchers, and activists around the world. Food Tank will also be
announcing some exciting work around mobilizing youth in 2014!
Through concrete action, hope and success in the food system is possible.
As Nelson Mandela said, “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great.”
Together we can be that generation and find solutions to nourish both people and the planet!
Here are 14 food resolutions for 2014:
1. Meet Your Local Farmer
Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2)
aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local
farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a
connection between farmers and consumers.
2. Eat Seasonal Produce
By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the
environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to
the farmer, supporting the local economy.
3. End Food Waste
More than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to
reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and
vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller
portions, composting, and donating excess food.
4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Many diseases are preventable, including obesity, yet 1.5 billion people in
the world are obese or overweight. Promote a culture of prevention by
engaging in physical activity and following guidelines for a healthy
diet. Gaps in food governance must also be addressed to encourage
healthy lifestyles, including junk food marketing to children.
5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
A large portion of food production is used for animal feed and biofuels--at least one-third of global food production is used to feed livestock. And land grabs are resulting in food
insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental
devastation, and water loss. Strengthening farmers' unions and
cooperatives can help farmers be more resilient to food prices shocks,
climate change, conflict, and other problems.
6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
Mungbean, cow pea, spider plant...these indigenous crops might sound
unfamiliar, but they are grown by small-holder farmers in countries all
over the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that
approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s genetic resources are now
extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is predicted to
disappear by the year 2050. We need to promote diversity in our fields
and in our diets!
7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that
pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can
harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and
environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and
8. Go Meatless Once a Week
To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and
0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576
gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water
footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your
"hoofprint" by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume.
In Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked,”
he learns how the four elements-fire, water, air, and earth-transform
parts of nature into delicious meals. And he finds that the art of
cooking connects both nature and culture. Eaters can take back control
of the food system by cooking more and, in the process, strengthen
relationships and eat more nutritious--and delicious--foods.
10. Host a Dinner Party
It’s doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring people together! Talk about
food, enjoy a meal, and encourage discussion around creating a better
food system. Traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal? For another
option try Meal Sharing and eat with people from around the world.
11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or
organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True
cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to
understand the cost of all of the "ingredients" that go into making
fast food--including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers,
transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don't show up in
the price tag of the food we eat.
12. Democratize Innovation
Around the world, farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs,
and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions to
various, interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work has the
great potential to be significantly scaled up, broadened, and
deepened—and we need to create an opportunity for these projects to get
the attention, resources, research, and the investment they need.
13. Support Family Farmers
The U.N. FAO has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, honoring the more than 400 million family farms in
both industrialized and developing countries, defined as farms who rely
primarily on family members for labour and management. Family farmers
are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to
millions and boosting local markets, while also protecting natural
14. Share Knowledge Across Generations
Older people have challenges--and opportunities--in accessing healthy foods. They're sharing their knowledge with
younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food
culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that
older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and
healthy for as long as possible.