Sustainability has been a buzzword in among “foodies” for awhile now. We visit the farmer’s market in order to “eat local” and concerned with what we’re feeding our families and ourselves. However, the bigger issues of childhood obesity, hunger, and agriculture daunt us and as consumers, we’re not sure how to help the system. That’s where founders, Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson, of the just launched Food Tank: The Food Think Tank hope to help.
Food Tank aims to be the connection between the players in the food industry, from consumers, to policy makers, and farmers, not just in the United States, but also throughout the world, by creating a network of information that is available for everyone. Their website aims to “bridge the domestic and global food issues by highlighting how hunger, obesity, climate change, and unemployment, and other problems stem can be solved by more research and investment in agriculture.”
Co-founder Danielle Nierenberg envisions Food Tank to be a “go to source” for people from all walks of life who have an interest in various parts of the agriculture system whether it is how Europe is managing sustainable farms, how obesity is affecting sub-Saharan Africa, or what schools in the U.S. have been implementing as healthy food initiatives. All of these issues are connected and to have the latest research in one place will help researchers, consumers, and policymakers begin to fix the current food system, which both Nierenberg and Gustafson believe is broken.
Being a Part of the Solution – One Step at a Time
In such a large and complicated system, the question becomes what can one person do? Food Tank offers an answer: “As much as we need THINKING on global food system issues, we also need Doing.”
So what is Nierenberg’s suggestion on just what New Jersey consumers can be Doing to begin making the system better? “The key thing is to look into your community, see what is missing, and fill that void. Be a part of the solution.” Whether it’s helping your local grocery store donate their leftover produce to the local food bank or soup kitchen, asking your local farmer at the farmer’s market to help local families who may not be eating the fruits and vegetables they should be, or planting a garden at your child’s school, Nierenberg believes it’s all a part of the solution to the bigger problem.
We can start right at home by eating lower on the food chain which will not only benefit our own health but also the world. “Good food, the healthiest food, has the lowest environmental impact on the world.” Who said little changes can’t make a world of a difference!
Eating healthy may seem easy to those who have the means to purchase the needed ingredients, however Nierenberg wants consumers to realize the divide in the market. “There’s a resurgence of farmer’s markets, mostly in the elite, white neighborhoods, and it hasn’t spread to the rest of us. Everyone deserves to eat healthy.” It is important for people to reconnect with their food, no matter what their financial status may be.
Nierenberg also believes in getting back to our roots and understanding just how important communality is when we sit down to eat (we discussed how a lot of people eat by themselves from a box, out of the microwave, in front of the television instead of with their families.) “We’ve forgotten how to cook. We need to reestablish our culinary traditions.” By reestablishing our food traditions we will begin to connect once again because “food is really the thing that connects all of us together.”
Food Tank will also be a part of the solution along with consumers. Their website will highlight real world examples of how people and organizations throughout the world are developing innovative solutions so that others can follow suit in their own communities. So if you’re still not sure of what you can do to help, be sure to visit their website to get some ideas.
To learn more about Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, visit their website at http://foodtank.org.
Melissa Beveridge was raised in Monmouth County, and has been hunting, gathering, and tasting different shore foods for as long as she could eat, while creating unique dishes in her home. She earned her Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy at Monmouth University where she wrote her thesis on childhood obesity. She is an ESL professor, designer, cook, and editorial writer for the Greenwich Village Gazette (nycny.com). Traveling to various locales, Melissa has a taste for spicy foods and a flare for finding those hidden gems.