Owner system

Nine quotes and questions to guide the food system through this year – Food Tank

Contributing Author: Jared Kaufman

Over the past year, Food Tank has released over 70 episodes of our podcast, Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg. We’ve brought together people from dozens of countries on almost every continent to discuss virtually every aspect of food’s past, present and future.

As host of the show, I am privileged to speak with so many advocates, writers, business leaders, farmers, chefs and many more on the podcast this year . These conversations not only raise key questions that need to be considered as we enter another year of food system change, but also answer them.

These nine quotes are the start of a roadmap for the coming months and years of global food transformation:

How can we address both the health issues facing our body and our planet?

“For us, deep medicine is about understanding that health can no longer be seen as something we can strive for as individuals. We must understand that health must be achieved in the context of our communities, our families, where we find ourselves in our societies and in relation to the web of life.

— Dr. Rupa Marya, co-author of Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice. Watch Dani’s conversation with her and defend Raj Patel here.

What are chefs doing to reclaim indigenous and traditional cuisines?

“My approach to food is really farm-to-table, and part of that is a reclamation of heritage cultures… How do we explore these West African culinary traditions and techniques? How do we apply them to Global North or Western style cooking? There is room for growth, and this is not about cultural appropriation; it is really a question of exchange.

— Ozoz Sokoh, Nigerian Food Explorer, culinary anthropologist and blog author kitchen butterfly, in conversation about the dual pyramid model of health and wellness. Learn more here.

Amid centuries of racism and land loss, how can farmers of color continue to build strong networks of support?

“Older farmers are generally looking for younger farmers to come under their wing, and younger farmers want them too. They want to see someone who has experience in this field over a long period of time, who they can just relate to, really, and share their work and experience with. Part of what we do on the Farmers of Color network is to try to create space for these cross-generational connections with older and younger farmers, and to organize them.

— Tahz Walker, program manager for the Farmers of Color network and co-founder of Earthseed Land Collective. Listen to his Food Talk podcast episode here.

What does the next generation of food advocates need from those in power today?

“As young people, we are powerful, we can act, we make these innovations… but we need the support of decision-makers, for example, government and business. In my experience as a youth advocate and actionist, I have seen the example of ‘What the youth are doing!’ can be used to excuse less action from those in power who have the most capacity to take the action we know we need for food systems, for the planet, for climate action . Because [they] can feel more relaxed knowing that the next generation has been pushing it forward for [them]. But we need this support depending on what we are doing – it is essential for me.

— Lana Weidgenant, Associate Director of Partnerships at Zero Hour, an international youth-led climate justice organization. Listen to more here.

How can we convince companies to adopt sustainable practices?

Many companies add ingredients but do not add biodiversity. For example, when America fell in love with pomegranates, it’s not as if, all of a sudden, orchards were planting pomegranate trees here and there. It’s more like tens of thousands of acres have been cleared to plant pomegranates. So what we’ve done deliberately is help businesses understand that in a time of climate change and severe weather, and a few other things, buying food as a commodity in the marketplace global can actually be worse for their bottom line than sourcing groups or baskets of ingredients directly from specific farms or farming regions.

— Arlin Wasserman, Founder and CEO of Changing Tastes, a sustainable food consultancy. Listen to his conversation with Dani here, and read his predictions for the food system in 2022 here.

Why does the United States have such large disparities in food access and nutrition security?

“The way we think about food, nutrition, food choice in this country is from a really individualistic perspective. It’s up to each person to make healthy choices, to feed their families with foods healthy foods, and we don’t see it as a collective responsibility or a right. We don’t see food and healthy eating as a human right. We think of it first as a privilege, but then we also think of it as something that each person is individually responsible for ensuring, even when there are major and systemic barriers to it.It is shameful for our society, but those who end up bearing the shame are the individuals.

— Priya Fielding-Singh, sociologist and author of How the Other Half Eats: the Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America. Listen to more here.

How can we expand the power of home gardening?

“To imagine that you cannot feed your children, not only feed your children and yourself, but feed your community – It just gives me goosebumps to see the impact [gardening] may have. It empowers families to take control of their lives and grow food for themselves, their families, and their community. And this psychological change in their state of mind is absolutely extraordinary – it will change your life. … I think gardening is essentially an act of hope.

— Kimbal Musk, entrepreneur, discussing his Million Gardens Movement project. Listen to his conversation with Modern Farmer’s Dani and Frank Giustra here.

How can cooking help people reduce their climate footprint?

As consumers, we contribute to the climate crisis, very directly, through our food choices. And what that also means is that our food choices matter and how we eat interacts and has a direct impact on the planet. …I think if we were to step back and look at the [Kitchen Connection cookbook] recipes and look at the contents of the book and in some ways see that, as a microcosm of what our plates should look like, I think that could really help us. But I don’t think that’s the only solution. I think it’s the beginning, and I think it has to be adapted to everyone’s local context, to their own situation and to their health requirements.

— Earlene Cruz, founder of Kitchen Connection. Listen to more here.

What will it take to build coalitions for effective change?

“Courage is the key to this [change]. But it is very difficult to do courageous things alone. So find one, or two, or three, or a crowd of people… and together take action, because I think courage is contagious.

—Frances Moore Lappé, famed author of Diet for a Small Planet and democracy advocate. Watch his conversation with Dani here.

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Photo courtesy of Gabriella Clare, Unsplash