Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Food Tank: The Food Think Tank – Unlocking the Solutions to Fix the Food System

On January 10th, 2013, food system experts Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson launched “The Food Tank: The Food Think Tank,” a new initiative geared towards bridging conversations about hunger, obesity, agriculture and sustainability - all issues related to the food system.  Through this initiative, Danielle and Ellen hope to share stories from across the world and bring forward solutions that contribute to “healthier people, communities, and the environment.” Their idea of a better food system includes “health-based agriculture, alleviating hunger and poverty, stemming the tide of obesity, and improving nutrition and environmental sustainability.”   Their second newsletter was dedicated to the dual problems of hunger and obesity:

Worldwide, at least 1 billion people are hungry, while another 1.5 billion people are considered overweight or obese. One of Food Tank’s goals is to bridge the major disconnect between organizations that are fighting hunger and organizations that are fighting obesity. The two groups have more in common than they think and the solutions to both problems aren’t that different…. In Food Tank co-Founder Ellen Gustafson's TEDx talk, she highlights the shift in our global food system over the past 30 years toward processed foods and how this transition has perpetuated both hunger and obesity.

As their first project, Danielle and Ellen will create an online clearinghouse of the best research from across the world on food and agriculture.  This project has great potential to increase awareness of the root causes of the broken food system and solutions needed to improve it.  Per an email update from Danielle:

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, in European healthy school lunch programs, in the explosion of farmers markets across the United States, in global food retailing initiatives that prevent food waste, and in individual homes, communities, regions, and countries all over the world. The science is out there, too, yet it is not getting the funding or research support needed to develop the new metrics we need to measure a nutrition-based model of agricultural success. This needs to change.

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank will push these solutions out in front of journalists, policy-makers, and the funding and donor communities. Through our on-the ground research, we have seen the impact that sustainable and diverse farming systems can have on health and nutrition, food security, and the livelihoods of farmers and entrepreneurs.

In the South Bronx, we see the dual issues of hunger and obesity every day.  It takes more money, time, or both, for individuals in low-income neighborhoods to shop for healthy, affordable food – resources that most residents just don’t have.  We need to highlight innovative ideas and solutions in order to improve access to healthy, affordable food for all – such as at the BLK Projek’s “Not Just Talk: Food in the South Bronx” event on February 16th.

The Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is an exciting new initiative aimed at improving access to a healthy, sustainable food system that works for everyone.  We encourage you to check out the Food Tank website at

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