There’s no denying that our meals system is damaged. In response to the USDA, within the U.S. alone, practically 33.8 million folks—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 p.c of the meals provide in America. Then, if you take a look at the variety of folks going through starvation worldwide—which was roughly 345 million in 2022 (that’s greater than the complete U.S. inhabitants altogether)—the truth is much more unsettling.
Clearly, the reply is change. That’s the place Meals 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 Nicely+Good 2022 Changemaker recipient, to study extra concerning the group’s mission to kind a neighborhood that educates all about sustainable options for urgent environmental and social issues.
Nicely+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’ve a lot to study, particularly across the local weather disaster, from what farmers and others are doing to assist clear up it in different elements of the world.
W+G: How do you bridge the hole to attach folks globally with useful info?
DN: We do a whole lot of various things and attempt to meet folks the place they’re. For starters, now we have a really sturdy information web site the place we publish tales from across the globe each day, one year a 12 months. We even have a podcast the place we speak with totally different consultants about what’s taking place in meals and agriculture techniques. We additionally convene many occasions, together with on Capitol Hill, and do a whole lot of 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 assist, 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 eager about farming on the time. Actually, on the time, I blamed farmers for destroying the atmosphere. In faculty, 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 had been doing superb issues—like shade-grown espresso and elevating bees—and I noticed the connection between our agricultural techniques and the individuals who produce the meals that we eat day by day and the way they’re really supporting wholesome ecosystems.
Later, I labored on the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental assume tank. There, I led a challenge 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 start out Meals Tank to inform the tales of hope and success, to vary the paradigm of doom and gloom and what’s improper with the world to what’s proper with it.
W+G: How do you hope to enact actionable change by Meals Tank’s messaging?
DN: I feel a lot of what we learn doesn’t have a transparent motion merchandise. We wish to inform folks 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 residence, 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 ladies, youth, and people of shade who’ve been ignored in our meals and agriculture techniques for therefore lengthy turn out to be an everyday subject of dialog. An particularly noteworthy statistic is that ladies make up about 43 p.c of worldwide agricultural labor in growing nations. In some nations, they make up 70 p.c of farmers, but don’t have the identical entry to training, instruments constructed for girls and never males, monetary banking, and infrastructure, simply to call a couple of. We’re ignoring these ladies at our personal peril as a result of if ladies had the identical entry to sources as males, they may elevate as many as 100 million folks out of starvation.
W+G: What’s arising within the pipeline in 2023?
DN: We’ll be serving to Fed by Blue, a corporation that focuses on aquatic meals, launch their Hope is within the Water sequence with chef Andrew Zimmern at Sundance Movie Competition throughout the meals phase known as ChefDance. I am additionally talking on the Oxford Farming Convention, an annual convention for farmers in the UK. We’re actually excited to host occasions for the South by Southwest meals monitor 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 faculty and college, Huston-Tillotson, to have a meals tank summit and display screen totally different meals movies. So it is a very thrilling begin to 2023.
Interview has been edited for size and readability.
Study extra about how our meals decisions have an effect on the atmosphere: