Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

10 Young People Who Are Changing the Food System

Food
10 Young People Who Are Changing the Food System

Innovations in agriculture don’t just come from veteran environmentalists or food industry heavyweights. In fact, many incredibly inspiring projects are the creations of youth and young people around the world. Food Tank is excited to highlight 10 young foodies who make us more hopeful about the future. 

Back to the Roots founders Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez.

1-2. Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez, 26 and 27, on the precipice of their graduation from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009, turned down offers to enter the world of consulting and investment banking to pursue mushrooms. The pair had been experimenting with growing mushrooms on coffee grounds, and after a successful bucket of oyster mushrooms, they knew they had discovered a big opportunity. Oakland-based Back to the Roots was born, and, now five-years-old, its two main products are mushroom kits, which can grow mushrooms directly out of a cardboard box, and AquaFarm, a self-cleaning fish tank that uses the fishes’ waste to grow food. As declared on their website, “our mission is to make food personal again through the passionate development of tools that educate and inspire, one family at a time.”

3. Nicky Bronner, 17, has a sweet tooth, but found himself butting heads with his parents, who didn’t want him filling up on processed candies and junk foods. Unwilling to sacrifice peanut butter cups and chocolate bars, Bronner, then 13, worked with his father to found Unreal Foods, whose candies are made with real ingredients: no preservatives, grass-fed dairy, no corn syrup, gluten free and fair trade cocoa. The products have made their way from the Bronners’ home outside Boston, MA to big name grocery stores, and can be purchased throughout the U.S. at Target, Kroger and Wegman’s, just to name a few.

4. Tyson Gersh, 25, is owner and founder of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging community members in sustainable agriculture on vacant plots of land, providing people with nutritious food, while making the community more conscientious about where their food comes from. Gersh, who graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn this year, is now head of an organization that boasts 2,500 volunteers and grew more than 10,000 pounds of produce this year alone. “Using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability and community—while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity—we hope to empower urban communities,” MUFI’s website reads.

5-6. Eve and Liam Knight, 12 and 13, are better known as the Spice Kidz. The duo moved from Ireland to Pensacola, FL and was disappointed by the lack of curry, which is widespread across the British Isles. Rather than settle for less curry in their diets, Eve and Liam decided to introduce an easy-to-use spice packet (inspired by a similar product in Ireland) to Americans, allowing them to create easy and nutritious meals. The pair won an entrepreneurship competition at the Young Entrepreneur’s Academy of Greater Pensacola, and their product is being sold at a local store. "We want everyone in America to have curry for dinner," Eve said. "And we want them to have it once a week."

7. Emily Meko, 23, is founder and owner of Eat What’s Good, a vegan and gluten-free vendor of packaged and prepared foods, consulting services, meal planning, catering and menu development. The Ontario resident, a culinary student who has also studied food science and human nutrition, hopes to get people excited about organic, healthy, food. “It's where healthy meets delicious, and getting away from the idea that healthy food has to taste institutionalized and boring,” she said. Meko’s products are already featured at a nearby wellness clinic as well as a yoga studio, and she hopes the reach of her healthy eats will continue to expand.

8. Benedict Mundele, 20, founded Surprise Tropicale, a food take-away and catering business, the idea for which she developed when she was in high school. The Democratic Republic of Congo resident started off by giving free breakfasts to members of the Kuvuna Foundation, an organization dedicated to sustainable development, leadership development and support for entrepreneurs. Mundele, who is studying social communication at the Catholic University of Congo, said that although her country has plenty of fresh food, it is often exported, processed, imported again and sold at higher prices. She wants to keep the DRC’s fresh food fresh, and hopes to soon supply her foods to local supermarkets. Mundele is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and will attend the World Economic Forum on Africa in Nigeria this year.

9. Ben Simon, 24, is executive director and one of the founders of the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a network of college chapters whose mission is simple: direct surplus food from their campuses to hungry Americans instead of landfills. The University of Maryland graduate started the program with several other students, and three years later, the organization boasts more than 95 chapters across 26 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Since 2011, FRN has donated more than 400,000 pounds of food, and Simon was awarded US$10,000 by the Do Something campaign in 2013 to further FRN’s goals. FRN hopes to be on 150 campuses and to have donated 610,000 pounds of food by May 2015. “An amazing amount of food gets thrown into a trash can,” Simon said. “It evokes a very innate response to jump into action.”

10. Remmi Smith, 14, has launched an online cooking show and a spin-off, published a cookbook and had her products sold at Whole Foods—all before starting high school. The Tulsa, OK resident said her passion for food and cooking was sparked by the childhood obesity epidemic, and she hopes to inspire other kids to experiment with nutritious, tasty foods. Smith is also Sodexo’s student health and nutrition ambassador, participant in the Future Chefs program, and has given cooking demonstrations in front of Congress and the National School Board Association.

 

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less