Food is the common ground of humanity. When it is local, whole and fresh, the people of that community are fed, healthy and resilient.  Today, one in nine people around the world are hungry.  The largest populations are in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  At the same time, humans are becoming increasingly obese leading to a rise in chronic diseases.  How did this happen and how can it be fixed? Some answers are complex and will require a paradigm shift on how to grow, and access whole natural food, and reduce waste in order to have enough for everyone.  Other results such as community gardens and urban farms are a hands-on approach to plant the answers.   Since World Food Day is October 16th let’s take a look at some unique yet simple solutions that address these twin epidemics.

Fallen Fruit Project – Los Angeles, California

What started as an art collaboration between the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and three local artists expanded into what they call their largest “art piece”; the planting of fruit trees in the state’s first public fruit park located in unincorporated Del Aire.  Now part of the fruit activist movement, the trees serve the public’s health.  Inspired by this project’s success new fruit parks are growing around the country.

Agroecological Food Strategy – Havana, Cuba

With the collapse of Cuba’s economy and the ensuing food shortages in 1991, Cubans undertook the largest conversion from conventional farming to organic or semi-organic farming in the world.  New farming policies were introduced that focused on maintaining soil fertility, organic pest control and management, and utilizing local resources.  Access to state-owned land was increased and farmer-to-farmer research and collaboration was encouraged.  As a result, today, Cuba’s urban farms supply 70% or more of all of the fresh fruit and vegetables consumed in the country’s cities, and 350,000 jobs were created over the last two decades.

Seva Café – Ahmedabad, India

The Seva Café uses the gift-economy model for sharing food.  Anyone who is hungry is treated as a guest and offered a freshly prepared meal by volunteers.  Patrons may choose to pay whatever they can afford, volunteer, or do nothing at all.  The bill, which shows no charge, includes this message, “Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you.  To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those who dine after you.” Seva Café is known as “Karma Kitchen” in many countries.  It is part of the pay-it-forward trend in restaurants.

Cassava, the Root that feeds Countries – Cali, Columbia

In Latin America, Cassava is a staple crop used mainly for food, livestock feed and for its starch which is used in the baking industry throughout the continent.  Recently there has been a movement to increase production of cassava to address food insecurity.  The Colombian Corporation of Agricultural Research and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture partnered to breed seeds that produce new heartier varieties of Cassava that are pest and disease resistant, have a high starch content, multiple roots per plant and the ability to grow at high altitudes.  These new varieties also have the potential to grow in similar regions in Africa and Asia.

Urban Agriculture Provides Solutions for Food Security, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Sub-Sahara Africa has a population growth rate at 3.6%, nearly double the world average.  Due to drought, climate change, conflict, and food insecurity the migration of rural residents to urban settings is expected to continue.  In Dar es Salaam, many bring and continue to use their farming abilities in order to provide for their families. On the edge of the city commercial plots are being created on unused land.  Urban gardens mean that a variety of nutritious healthy food is available in lieu of processed store-bought.  The value of selling the excess to neighbors means the poorest have access to healthy whole food and the urban farmers have access to a steady income.


Related Posts