There’s no denying that our meals system is damaged. According to the USDA, within the U.S. alone, almost 33.8 million individuals—or about 10 p.c of U.S. households—skilled meals insecurity in some unspecified time in the future in 2021. But, it’s estimated that meals waste accounts for about 30 to 40 percent of the meals provide in America. Then, while you take a look at the variety of individuals going through starvation worldwide—which was roughly 345 million in 2022 (that’s greater than all the U.S. inhabitants altogether)—the truth is much more unsettling.
Clearly, the reply is change. That’s the place Food Tank, a nonprofit group advocating for large change within the meals system that launched in 2013, is available in to play. We caught up with Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Meals Tank and a Well+Good 2022 Changemaker recipient, to study extra concerning the group’s mission to type a neighborhood that educates all about sustainable options for urgent environmental and social issues.
Properly+Good: Are you able to describe Meals Tank’s mission in a nutshell?
Danielle Nierenberg: What we attempt to do is definitely quite simple. We attempt to spotlight tales of hope and success in meals and agriculture techniques, each domestically and internationally, to assist make these bridges between what’s taking place abroad and what’s taking place right here as a result of, typically, it’s very comparable. We now have a lot to study, particularly across the local weather disaster, from what farmers and others are doing to assist clear up it in different components of the world.
W+G: How do you bridge the hole to attach individuals globally with beneficial data?
DN: We do numerous various things and attempt to meet individuals the place they’re. For starters, we’ve got a really sturdy information web site the place we publish tales from across the globe every day, twelve months a 12 months. We even have a podcast the place we speak with completely different consultants about what’s taking place in meals and agriculture techniques. We additionally convene many occasions, together with on Capitol Hill, and do numerous on-the-ground analysis in locations like Senegal. On the core of it, we actually simply attempt to elevate consciousness in a centrist method—we’re neither proper nor left, regardless of my very own private or political opinions—and shine a highlight on teams and people who don’t get the help, analysis, or funding that they want in any other case.
W+G: What impressed you to launch Meals Tank within the first place?
DN: I come from a really small city in Missouri known as Defiance. I grew up round many farmers, although I wasn’t fascinated by farming on the time. In actual fact, on the time, I blamed farmers for destroying the atmosphere. In school, I went on to main in environmental coverage and authorities. Following that, I joined the Peace Corps and volunteered within the Dominican Republic. There, I had an epiphany: I used to be assembly so many farmers who have been doing wonderful issues—like shade-grown espresso and elevating bees—and I spotted the connection between our agricultural techniques and the individuals who produce the meals that we eat day by day and the way they’re truly supporting wholesome ecosystems.
Later, I labored on the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental suppose tank. There, I led a venture known as Nourishing the Planet, the place I traveled with my now co-founder of Meals Tank to 26 nations throughout the African continent, highlighting these remodeling the agriculture techniques within the area. That is actually what impressed us to begin Meals Tank to inform the tales of hope and success, to change the paradigm of doom and gloom and what’s mistaken with the world to what’s proper with it.
W+G: How do you hope to enact actionable change by means of Meals Tank’s messaging?
DN: I believe a lot of what we learn doesn’t have a transparent motion merchandise. We need to inform individuals about one thing nice that’s occurring and provides them one thing to do with it. For instance, 10 years in the past, of us weren’t as enthusiastic about stopping meals loss and waste as they’re now. However now, with details about meals loss, we’re doing easy issues like shopping for much less on the grocery retailer and composting at dwelling, guaranteeing we’re utilizing the meals we purchase and never losing our cash.
W+G: What space wants enchancment that we ought to be specializing in?
DN: It has been thrilling to observe girls, youth, and folk of shade who’ve been ignored in our meals and agriculture techniques for therefore lengthy turn into a daily subject of dialog. An particularly noteworthy statistic is that women make up about 43 percent of global agricultural labor in developing countries. In some nations, they make up 70 p.c of farmers, but don’t have the identical entry to schooling, instruments constructed for ladies and never males, monetary banking, and infrastructure, simply to call a couple of. We’re ignoring these girls at our personal peril as a result of if girls had the identical entry to sources as males, they might elevate as many as 100 million individuals out of starvation.
W+G: What’s developing within the pipeline in 2023?
DN: We’ll be serving to Fed by Blue, a company that focuses on aquatic meals, launch their Hope is within the Water sequence with chef Andrew Zimmern at Sundance Film Festival through the meals section known as ChefDance. I am additionally talking on the Oxford Farming Conference, an annual convention for farmers in the UK. We’re actually excited to host occasions for the South by Southwest food track in March—a sequence of discussions on know-how and coverage that may change how meals might be grown, distributed, cooked, and skilled in more healthy and extra sustainable methods. And we’ll be working with the traditionally Black school and college, Huston-Tillotson, to have a meals tank summit and display completely different meals movies. So it is a very thrilling begin to 2023.
Interview has been edited for size and readability.
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