January 11, 2013

A Food Think Tank

A new initiative that launched yesterday aims to spur change in the complex global food system by fostering the growing community of voices on food issues. What’s more, it is attempting to tackle the system as whole, bridging the current ‘silos’, and bringing together the breadth of stakeholders from researchers and the NGO community to farmers and policy makers. Founders Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson plan to provide a repository of agricultural innovations and literature on food and agriculture, in addition to furthering the research and synthesis to support a paradigm shift in the current system. The following is originally posted on the Food Tank website. 

There’s no doubt that the food system is broken. More than 1 billion people are obese, nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night, and at least 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Roughly a half-century after the Green Revolution—the first systematic, large-scale attempt to reduce poverty and hunger throughout the world—a large share of the human family is still chronically without food, reliable income, and access to education. And over the last 30 years, the western food system has been built to promote over-consumption of a few consolidated commodities and has failed to be the harbinger of health as it spreads around the world. The epidemic of obesity, in industrialized and developing countries alike, is increasing the risks of diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, and other maladies.

In addition, we waste vast amounts of food—more than one third of all food worldwide is wasted, or 1.3 billion tons annually. In the developing world, roughly 40 percent of all food goes to waste as a result of pests, disease, and improper storage.

Food Tank is planning a 2013 Change the Food System summit, conducting on-the-ground research both domestically and internationally, preparing research reports and books, highlighting road maps for sustainable agricultural systems, and building an innovations database. And the Food Tank website will be posting new research and insights daily.

If we start now, there is an opportunity to develop a better vision for the global food system. Fixing the system requires changing the conversation and finding ways that make food production—and consumption—more economically, environmentally, and socially just and sustainable.

The solutions, both big and small, are out there—in market garden projects in rural Niger, on rooftop gardens in Vietnam, at research institutes in Taiwan, and in individual communities all over the world. Unfortunately, these projects are not getting the attention and the investment they need. This needs to change. Food Tank: the Food Think Tank is prepared to take on that challenge!

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