Organic Food and Farm-to-Table Pioneer Alice Waters Is Creating a Revolution in School Lunches
By Don Hazen
When I spoke with Alice Waters, we didn't focus on her famed restaurant, Chez Panisse, or her profound impact on the way we eat today, starting with the concept of farm to table. Rather, we talked about her passionate, decades-long campaign to provide organic school lunches to kids across the country.
Waters has long advocated that growing, preparing and eating food should be considered a centerpiece of the school curriculum, and she is making progress; thousands of schools across America and around the world have adopted some aspect of her Edible Schools Program.
Waters' vision has become the polar opposite of the fast-food industrial complex. Fast food, fast technology, fast everything is the enemy of Waters' reverence for feeding our bodies and souls in healthy and thoughtful ways. The student body in the U.S. totals somewhere between 50 and 60 million students—the population of a medium-sized country. Waters' attempt to prepare and feed nourishing meals to these kids threatens a system that packages and hurdles our kids through lunchtime.
At a time when President Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos champion the privatization of the public school system via vouchers and charters, Waters' vision can almost seem quaint or even a bit far-fetched. The school privatization movement is being aggressively led by the wealthiest people in the country, including the Walmart family, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg, Reed Hastings and many others. DeVos is proud of cutting funding for school lunches for poor kids—and those lunches are not even remotely like the nourishing, locally sourced lunches Waters has in mind.
Interestingly, the wretched political situation many of us find ourselves in doesn't seem to faze Waters. She does not blink. She is certainly aware of it, but she ignores the Trump apocalypse. She does not wring her hands, waver or go into shock—whatever it is that many of us have done as we suffer symptoms of Trump trauma. Waters simply persists in a straight line with her message, her vision and the eternal hope that eventually people in large numbers will come to understand what is right and true about healthy eating—which is, as far as she is concerned, a hell of a lot of fun.
It was an empty seat that led me to interview Alice Waters. We met a month or so ago. I was at Chez Panisse because Waters' longtime friend Hamilton Fish threw a luncheon to introduce Win McCormick, the new owner of the New Republic. In effect, Fish was introducing himself as the new publisher. Fish had invited a friendly crowd of local independent journalists and media types, including the likes of powerhouse duo Adam and Arlie Hochschild; Deirdre English, once editor of Mother Jones and now at UC Berkeley's School of Journalism; and the documentary producer Steve Talbot.
I was sitting across from Mark Schapiro, author of countless books and articles about the environmental destruction at our doorstep. Meanwhile Waters was gliding around in the background, making sure all was well with the food and the service. She seemed to have a clear sense that she was going to enjoy the festivities and that everything was under control. At some point, she must have spied the open seat at our table, and gracefully welcomed herself to it. It wasn't long before our conversation headed in the direction of healthy food for school kids. I had been aware of Waters' relationship with a local junior high in Berkeley, and how she helped transform it into a dynamic expression of equitable food systems, where students learn and engage with healthy, local, organic foods.
A note: I put this interview together after a bit of time off, and in the meantime, I was upstaged by a long profile of Waters in the New York Times, written by Kim Severson, about Waters' new memoir, Coming to My Senses, The Making of a Counter Culture. In the article, Severson lovingly recognizes Waters' outsized role in the food revolution, even as she's content to be at the controls of just one restaurant. As Severson wrote, "Sprinkled with photographs, the book traces Ms. Waters' years as a European backpacker smitten with France and as a young radical cooking for the Bay Area's antiwar intelligentsia."
Qualities and experiences like these have helped Waters become the rarified mind and voice of a new food movement. I offer a few excerpts from Severson's piece to save me the trouble of more biographical material, and to do her work honor:
"Waters has not set foot in a conventional grocery store for 25 years. She remains devoted to the idea that all food should be organic, beautiful and eaten communally. That approach, which once seemed strident and economically tone deaf, has seeped into everyday food culture. Ms. Waters' image has softened into that of a grandmotherly sage whose wisdom young people especially seem eager to hear."
"'She is responsible for radicchio in the supermarket and the slice of blood orange on your airplane meal,' said the writer David Kamp."
"Yet she continues to play a kind of small ball that, over the years, has proved powerful. She has never expanded Chez Panisse to other cities, or jumped fully into celebrity in ways that could have promoted her agenda. Rather, she prefers to personally cajole every politician, journalist and philanthropist she meets."
And Diego Galicia, owner of San Antonio's Mixtli, called her, "one of the titans of the mythical chefs in this country."
As Severson makes claim, "Ms. Waters is the reason restaurants started naming farms on menus and serving mesclun salads and American-made goat cheese."
Such a reverent profile is no surprise, and I found it easy to engage with Waters' charm, intellect and passion for equitable food systems and her creativity to engage students. With that in mind, on to our interview.
Don Hazen: Let's start out at the beginning with you telling us a little bit about the edible food program and how it came to be.
Alice Waters: The program came to be about 22 years ago when Neil Smith, the principal of Kings School, called and asked me if I would like to come and help him beautify the school. I had been interviewed by someone and I was asked about public education at Berkeley and I said, it's just so depressing that I go by this middle school every day on my way to the restaurant and it looks like it's abandoned. There's graffiti on the walls. The grass isn't kept. It just looks ... What's happened in this city so close to the University of California? How could this happen?
So he invited me over to his school.
DH: He read the interview.
AW: He read the interview. Yes. And so we took a walk around the school and all of a sudden the whole idea came to me.
This is a middle school that was built in 1921 for 500 kids. Now, there are 1,000 kids. The middle school kids—sixth, seventh, and eighth graders—they speak 22 different languages at home. So it's a really good mix of kids and they used to eat in the cafeteria that accommodated 500 kids. As the school grew, they abandoned the cafeteria and they had a snack bar. The kids would pick up food there, or not, or bring it from home, or not eat anything.
DH: That does not sound healthy.
AW: I was walking around and seeing the land and there was a vacant lot. But it was a broken-up black top and weeds and just garbage. I imagined immediately a productive vegetable garden here. I just saw it. I looked at the edge of the school yard where the snack bar was, it looked like we could build a center for the study of gastronomy there. And I saw a cafeteria that could accommodate all of the kids and big enough so that the kids could sit down every day to eat their school lunch.
I was thinking from the very beginning that school lunch would be part of academia. Every kid could feel connected in this way. They would sit down together and they would eat this organic, nutritious, delicious lunch.
DH: So weaving the education of food into the curriculum was always important?
AW: This is learning by doing. It was always in my mind that there would be a garden, not a garden for growing vegetables, but a classroom where every subject could sort of come alive. Whether it's math or science, an art class or even a history class, it could happen in the lab of the garden. Then I imagined that we would take over the old cafeteria, restore it, and make that a kitchen classroom. So that you would be, again, cooking and measuring. It's a math class. You could be writing down recipes and it's an English class. It could be connected in some way with what you were studying.
DH: And this is probably different from the old model of home economics?
AW: Way different. But I always, from day one, imagined a free, sustainable school lunch for every child. I always wanted it to be sort of in the spirit of the project that you'd buy food locally, seasonally, and that the farmers would come to the school, deliver the food. That their values would come into the institution.
When Neil Smith, the principal, came back to me he said, "Oh, this is a little big for me right now." He said, "I'll be back to you," and I never expected to hear from him again. When he called back six months later, I said, "Well, Neil, it's all or nothing." You know?
And he said, "I'm ready to do all of it but just don't talk about the free school lunch part right now. That will be our little secret because I think you'll frighten them with that. They'll wonder how you're getting the money. They're wondering how you're gonna do that. Just let that be our secret and we'll begin with the garden classroom."
Which is what we did.
DH: How were you able to amplify that project to 5,500 edible school projects? There's like a huge leap, right?
AW: I wanted a place that was so compelling that anybody who came to visit would understand it. They'd say, "Oh, I get it. I get that. This is just right as rain. I understand."
And how uncomplicated it is. It really isn't difficult at all. It's a delicious way to think about it.
It really caught on at the school and all the teachers began to use those two rooms as interactive classrooms. They know that when the kids are going to the garden or the kitchen they never miss a class.
We're operating on the Montessori principle that children need to be won over. You don't tell them what they can't eat or can't do, you just bring them into a relationship. There's something irresistible. They are empowered and engaged differently and that's really what has happened. It really is the truth that if kids grow it and cook it, they all eat it. My priorities have been teaching three values that we need in order to live on this planet together: stewardship of the land, nourishment, and communication.
So that's at the base of what we're doing. That no matter what class they're taking, they're deeply engaged with nature. That three years they're in school there, they know about real food. They're eating whole grains. They're eating vegetables and fruits. They're falling in love with them. They're really learning how to cook them. They're also doing their math class, yeah.
DH: And of course, those are things they can take on for the rest of their life.
AW: I always say they could give a TED talk… they're very able.
When 85% of the kids in this country don't have one meal with their family, just imagine what that means. Just imagine, life is like a run-on sentence, you never pause. You're always grabbing something. You're eating in front of the television. You're out grazing with your friends, and you're learning and digesting the values of the fast-food culture. And that's what I really believe is destroying this world. We've been indoctrinated from early childhood that more is better.
DH: Do you see any ray of hope that the fast-food industry is coming to understand any of these principles?
AW: You know, people would be hopeful saying, "Well it seems that they're focusing more on health" or "They're not putting so many additives in the food." It's not that there couldn't be fast slow food. I remember this guy who was selling little fish sandwiches on the street. I just thought, "Yeah, that's fresh. That's fast slow food."
It's the way we're packaging and selling. It's as if advertising confers value, and that time is money. You don't want to stand in line anymore. If that guy can make that sandwich faster....
DH: You gotta get out of your car.
AW: Twenty-five percent of people eat in their cars. Of course, it's okay to do that. You know, time is money. Kitchen work is treachery. You know, just order in. Part of it is about taste. The other part is that I want people to come back to their senses. I want them to have the time and focus to really digest the human values. The touching, the smelling.
Maria Montessori was about the education of the senses. That was her big thing. She was very successful in the slums of Naples and in India where people were very poor, very hungry and very deprived. It's interesting that we are sensorially deprived. And not always because of poverty or hunger, but because we have been really indoctrinated into such a way that we don't sit in the present. Technology takes the place of food often.
So it's something way bigger that we're attempting to do. These 5,500 [edible schoolyard programs] are schools that have found us on the internet. They've heard about us in some way and they have taken the time to put their information onto our internet site.
Every time I travel there are people that had never even heard of the Edible Schoolyard, but they have gardens at schools or kitchens or they're doing something about the cafeteria. And in other countries around the world. I was just talking to someone on the phone in South Africa and they want to come and study the Edible Schoolyard Project, but they mentioned three or four garden projects that were happening in Cape Town and I said, "Please tell them to put them on the internet."
DH: I want to hear you say that this movement has so much momentum it's not stoppable, because as you know, we are now in the dark ages politically.
AW: I know. We are. But this is kind of an underground movement. I feel like we're in the underground, and we're passing notes back or we're passing meals to each other. You know, take this and tell that person and do that thing. When I was in Italy last, I heard about the forest schools. This has been going on for probably 10 years, it started in Germany.
Kids are dropped off at the edge of a park or a forest and they are preschool age particularly, three to six, and they just play in nature. Somebody brings in the food that they cook. They're kind of being watched so they don't do something really dangerous. But they're just playing in nature.
And they just started the ocean schools where they go to the seaside and the same thing.... Get reconnected. There's a waiting list of a couple hundred at the school in Rome. It's an international movement.
It allows us to fall in love with nature because she's our mother.
DH: But isn't everybody worried about insurance and accidents and protecting, so that needs to be overcome.
AW: Well everybody is, but that is the fast-food culture indoctrinating us to buy equipment from the stores rather than go out into nature. Make sure you have a backpack. Make sure you have rain umbrellas. Get the special kind of hiking boots, the really expensive kind cause you don't want to fall. Get all of the equipment in case you're in a dark place in the middle of the night and you have to put up a flare. You're so overburdened by the thought of the expense that you don't want to go out there.
DH: Some critics are saying kids do not like the food. Now, under Trump, all the Obama school food programs are hitting a stone wall. What do you think about all this?
AW: You can only imagine what I think.
DH: But for the record …
AW: In terms of kids not liking the food, I am shocked. I know that it's not true. I know that when kids are not educated about healthy food, they have a resistance to it. The resistance comes, again, from the fast-food culture.
DH: What is the big picture you see for the future?
AW: I think we need these models around the state of California. Because we want to focus here first. I think there are other right places, you know, in Vermont, maybe even in Virginia, New Orleans, and other places that I have visited recently that have farmers that are organized, that have great need, that love children, and really have interesting people in government positions. And actually have the possibility of growing that food for the schools.
The biggest thing right now, is supporting the people who take care of the environment. We must take care of the people who take care of the land. And so, if 20% of the population is in school, and they are asked to buy this food from farms. I mean at the real cost without a middleman, it could be amazing. It could change farming overnight.
DH: How about one overarching, inspirational, motivational statement about your passion. What would it be? How would you weave all the elements together?
AW: We still need to learn how to talk about food and education, because they haven't been talked about together, really. Education depends on our good health. It depends on our understanding of the environment and somehow we got those separate. I mean, John Dewey understood that. We went down another path and we have to come back to it.
If our public school system is a truly democratic institution. It's the place where we can reach every child in this county from kindergarten. What an opportunity to edibly educate them. I don't just mean a glorified cooking class. I've never thought of it that way. I have always thought of it as a way to empower students to learn, to give them confidence, and to nourish them. So, I think the centerpiece has to be a free, sustainable school lunch for every child.
DH: What about charter schools? What about voucher programs? What about, Reed Hastings, the Netflix guy, who wants kids to sit in front of their computers all day, not even in school, and learn?
AW: Well, I'm talking about every child. I'm talking about equality. That's right, never wrong. We all deserve an education and a nourishing school lunch.
DH: How will we get a free school lunch for every child? Through private programs like the Edible Schoolyard? Or through legislation?
AW: I think it's going to happen through education. We have a health care crisis. One in two kids is going to have diabetes. Now we need to educate children about health basically from birth. It's just ... crazy to think that we don't have to worry about it, the health care cost. So we really need an edible education. It's about kids. It's about getting politicians' attention to help to figure out how this could happen. Maybe it's a soda thing. Maybe it's a real estate tax. Maybe it's a rural development. Maybe it's all of these things together that make this happen, but it's essential that it ... I mean, we're, as Carlos Petrini [founder of the International Slow Food Movement] says, we're on a train and it's going off the edge of the cliff.
We have to stop the track and get off. Now we're in a jungle. We don't know how we're going to get out but we'll find a way. I've always believed in people power. I saw it happen when we organized around the AIDS crisis....We made an AIDS quilt that covered the entire mall. Everybody had a part in it and we can do this. I want to partner with Habitat for Humanity and rebuild every school in the state of California. We haven't paid any attention to what's happened to our schools for at least 30 years.
I remember when I came to Berkeley. That was in '64. We were the number-one university on the planet and we were number one in academic excellence from K-12. We are now number 47. It's so sad. And fast food has taken over our public schools so that we're trying to educate kids to make money. I mean, that's the goal, to get online, to do it fast, cheap, and easy. Whatever it takes.
DH: How about getting a real education?
AW: How about getting to meet, to know the people who are in your class? How they're touching your life. There are other pathways into our minds: touch, taste, smell, hearing, seeing, and we've closed these down. We don't go into a market and see anything out in the open. It's all in a package. You don't smell it.
Unless we go to a farmers' market we don't experience that. We don't cook anymore. We just order in. It's not just what we're eating, it's how we're eating. And that's what I'm really drawn to address with this project. The dinner table is a rite of civilization and we need to participate in that to keep our families together, to keep our communities together.
They're talking about rural development. How to keep people on the land, how to bring them back to the land, which is exactly what we need to be doing in this country and which is exactly what this project could do, this initiative. If we purchase food from local people it will put people into business in Bakersfield. And we're supporting the small local companies.
But fast-food culture would have us believe that this is too much work. Well, at Chez Panisse we have 85 people we buy from during the whole course of a year. We only feed 500 people a day. But it's a pleasure to talk to the farmers. That's my favorite part, always was.
It's really the communication and exchange that builds communities. It's not something you can legislate. It's that you're giving me the best bread I ever had and I'm so happy to give you money for it. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than stand in line and give money for your bread.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Shawna Foo
Anyone who's tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and "outplanting," or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.
Coral Gardening<p>Coral reefs <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/marine-life/coral-reef-ecosystems" target="_blank">support over 25% of marine life</a> by providing food, shelter and a place for fish and other organisms to reproduce and raise young. Today, <a href="https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-ocean-heat-content" target="_blank">ocean warming driven by climate change</a> is stressing reefs worldwide.</p><p>Rising ocean temperatures cause <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coralreef-climate.html#:%7E:text=Climate%20change%20leads%20to%3A,to%20the%20smothering%20of%20coral." target="_blank">bleaching events</a> – episodes in which corals expel the algae that live inside them and provide the corals with most of their food, as well as their vibrant colors. When corals lose their algae, they become less resistant to stressors such as disease and eventually may die.</p><p>Hundreds of organizations worldwide are working to restore damaged coral reefs by growing thousands of small coral fragments in nurseries, which may be onshore in laboratories or in the ocean near degraded reefs. Then scuba divers physically plant them at restoration sites.</p>
Sea surface temperatures on Aug. 3, 2020, measured from satellites. Warning = possible bleaching; Alert Level 1 = significant bleaching likely; Alert Level 2 = severe bleaching and significant mortality likely. NOAA Coral Reef Watch
Warmer Oceans<p>Climate scientists project that the oceans will <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/ar5_wgII_spm_en-1.pdf" target="_blank">warm up to 3˚C</a> by the year 2100. Scientists are working to create coral outplants that can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1721415116" target="_blank">better survive increases in temperature</a>, which could help to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1978" target="_blank">increase restoration success</a> in the future.</p><p>When coral restoration experts choose where to outplant, they typically consider what's on the seafloor, algae that could smother coral, predators that eat coral and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1792" target="_blank">presence of fish</a>. Our study shows that using temperature data and other information collected remotely from airplanes and satellites could help to <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00079" target="_blank">optimize this process</a>. Remote sensing, which scientists have used to study coral reefs for almost 40 years, can provide information on much larger scales than water surveys.</p><p>Coral reefs face an uncertain future and may not recover naturally from human-caused climate change. Conserving them will require reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting key habitats and actively restoring reefs. I hope that our research on temperature will help increase coral outplant survival and restoration success.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shawna-foo-1136932" target="_blank">Shawna Foo</a> is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Arizona State University. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Shawna Foo receives funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/ocean-warming-threatens-coral-reefs-and-soon-could-make-it-harder-to-restore-them-142876" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>.</em><em></em></p>
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Speaking of Shark Week:<p><a href="https://therevelator.org/film-fakery-shark-week-conservation/" target="_blank">Film Fakery: Does Shark Week Harm Conservation Efforts?</a></p>
Big Questions:<p><a href="https://therevelator.org/shark-conservation-success/" target="_blank">Are We Ready for Shark Conservation to Succeed?</a></p>
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By Isabella Garcia
On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.
Grassroots Resistance<p>The plant that would threaten Laur's health and home was awaiting the approval of an air permit by the North Carolina Department of Air Quality which, if approved, would basically greenlight the project. "This made me get out and go door to door," Laur says. One by one, she alerted her neighbors to the prospect of the asphalt plant. "I got to meet some of my neighbors I never knew before," she says. "There's no secret that there has always been a pretty strong line between the White community and the Black community here." In the end, three neighbors joined her efforts—the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, Anita Foust, and Bill Compton. Together, they formed the Anderson Community Group to advocate for environmental justice in their community.</p><p>"We are all the four corners of the community," Laur says with a laugh. "You've got a sick old White lady, Rev. Shoffner is a disabled vet, you've got Anita, who is a Black woman, and you've got a White, old country farmer. We all come from different faiths, but we've all come together as one."</p><p>Suddenly thrust into activism, the group contacted the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, a coalition that provides resources and connections with other groups. "We advocate, we organize, and we assist communities with whatever actions they are thinking of trying to protect themselves," says Naeema Muhammad, the network's co-director. Muhammad met with the activists from Anderson and recognized their need for legal advice, so she connected them with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The legal resources were key when the group determined that the data from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality's environmental justice report wasn't adding up.</p><p>The report—a requirement for all DEQ permit requests—stated that the Anderson community was 33% minority. That seemed far too low to the residents, so the Anderson Community Group did a census of each house within a 1-mile radius of the proposed plant—the same radius considered in the DEQ's environmental justice report.</p><p>"Rev. Shoffner went out into the community and did his own survey and found out that it was more than 70% minority," Laur says. "That was huge, because that changed the situation to a Title VI matter." Title VI is a federal civil rights law that prevents people from being discriminated against on the grounds of race, color, or national origin. Title VI cases require a more rigorous and comprehensive environmental justice report, so recognizing the Anderson community as a Title VI matter increases the strength of their request for a more in-depth report.</p><p>The massive difference in race demographics comes down to census data, Laur says. The DEQ was using race data from the 2010 census, which was only <a href="https://www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/?latlng=35.77385,-78.73807&z=7&query=coordinates::36.44038,-79.36343&promotedfeaturetype=states&arp=arpRaceEthnicity&baselayerstate=4&rtrYear=sR2010&infotab=info-rtrselfresponse&filterQuery=false" target="_blank">completed by about 64% of the population of Caswell County</a>—the county where Anderson is located. Laur says the Anderson population response rate could be even lower because the community is considered <a href="https://www.nccensus.org/about-the-census#hard-to-count-communities" target="_blank">"hard-to-count" by the U.S. Census Bureau</a>.</p><p>"The people who don't fill it out are rural people who want to keep their land and don't want zoning and minorities," Laur says, which creates skewed race demographics. The Anderson Community Group said that when they brought up this issue with the director of North Carolina DEQ, he said he was aware of the problem.</p><p>"So that tells me that all the EJ reports in North Carolina that have been done may not even be valid, just like ours," Laur says. "We were told that we are the first [community members] who have ever doubted it and checked it out."</p>
Elevating Voices<p>Determined to have new data collected, the Anderson Community Group rallied in early 2020. After learning from the state Department of Air Quality, the department responsible for approving or rejecting the asphalt air permit, that 100 statements of concern from community members would be sufficient to trigger a public hearing, the Anderson group gathered letters of concern from their community. They submitted more than 108.</p><p>"Then we were told there wasn't enough concern to have a public hearing," Laur says. "So, we started inundating the [Department of Air Quality director with emails and phone calls from the community."</p><p>Finally, in February 2020, the DEQ declared a public comment period for the issue, effectively placing the air permit for the asphalt plant on hold until a public hearing August 3. The public hearing will be held online because of COVID-19, but Laur says most people in Anderson don't own computers, and won't be able to attend. When the community group filed a complaint regarding accessibility, the DEQ then allowed public comments to be submitted via voicemail.</p><p>"Well, we don't have a cell tower out here," Laur says. She has personally never been able to use her cellphone in her home, and even her landline phone drops calls frequently. Even being able to afford a landline is a luxury in Anderson, Laur says.</p>
By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt
The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.
1. Aboriginal Carbon Foundation (Oceania)<p>The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation is building a carbon farming industry in Australia by Aboriginals, for Aboriginals. The Foundation offers training and support for new Indigenous farmers so they can learn how to capture atmospheric carbon in the soil. The carbon farming projects generate certified <a href="http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/Infohub/Markets/buying-accus/australian-carbon-credit-unit-supply" target="_blank">Australian Carbon Credit Units</a> (ACCU), which major carbon-producing businesses must purchase to offset their carbon emissions. Income generated by ACCUs is reinvested in Aboriginal communities by the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation and its participating farmers.</p>
2. AgroEcology Fund (International)<p>The AgroEcology Fund (AEF) galvanizes global leaders and experts to fund <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/26-organizations-working-to-conserve-seed-biodiversity/" target="_blank">biodiverse</a> and regenerative agriculture projects worldwide. Projects funded by AEF have included Indigenous food sovereignty initiatives, agroecology training institutions, and women's market access networks on every continent. With the support of governments and financial institutions, AEF hopes that agroecology will become the standard model for food production worldwide within thirty years.</p>
3. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (Asia)<p>The Asia Indigenous People Pact is an alliance of Indigenous organizations across southern and eastern Asia. Collectively, the Pact promotes and protects Indigenous lands, food systems, and biodiversity. Their alliance is bolstered by regional youth and women's networks, as well as support from international institutions, including the United Nations and Oxfam.</p>
4. Association of Guardians of the Native Potato from Central Peru (South America)<p>The Association of Guardians of the Native Potato from Central Peru (AGUAPAN) is a collective of Indigenous farmers. Each farmer grows between 50 and 300 ancestral varieties of potato, which are <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/food-tanks-summer-2020-reading-list/" target="_blank">indigenous to the Andes Mountains</a> of modern-day Peru. AGUAPAN farmers preserve the crop's biodiversity in their native communities and band together to advocate for economic, gender, education, and healthcare equity.</p>
5. Cheyenne River Youth Project (North America)<p>The Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota has served Lakota youth for more than three decades. Its Native Food Sovereignty initiative offers public workshops on <a href="https://www.nativeseeds.org/blogs/blog-news/how-to-grow-a-three-sisters-garden" target="_blank">Three Sisters gardening</a> of corn, beans, and squash. They also offer classes on Indigenous plants, gardening, and cooking. Their Winyan Tokay Win (Leading Lady) Garden serves as an outdoor classroom to reacquaint Lakota children with the earth. Their other programs use food grown in the garden for meals and snacks. They also sell surplus crops at their weekly Leading Lady Farmer's Market.</p>
6. Dream of Wild Health (North America)<p>Dream of Wild Health runs a 10-acre farm just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their Indigenous Food Share CSA program and farmer's market booths sell produce and value-added products grown by Native Americans. During the summer, Dream of Wild Health offers a Garden Warriors program where children can learn about seed saving, foraging, farmers market management, and other aspects of food sovereignty. They also host the <a href="https://dreamofwildhealth.org/indigenous-food-network" target="_blank">Indigenous Food Network</a> (IFN), a collective of Indigenous partners who advocate for local and regional policy changes. The IFN also hosts community food tasting events featuring prominent Indigenous chefs.</p>
7. First Peoples Worldwide (International)<p>First Peoples Worldwide was <a href="http://www.firstpeoples.org/" target="_blank">founded</a> by Cherokee social entrepreneur <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQxwHVeH6zc" target="_blank">Rebecca Adamson</a> to help businesses to align with First Peoples' rights. Now a part of the University of Colorado's <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/business/CESR" target="_blank">Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility</a>, First Peoples Worldwide continues to ensure that Indigenous voices are at the forefront of decision-making processes affecting their own self-determination. The organization works with businesses and institutions to assess their investments and guide them in incorporating Indigenous Peoples' rights and interests into their business decisions.</p>
8. Indigikitchen (North America)<p>Mariah Gladstone's Indigikitchen uses Native foods as resistance. Her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO918GT8I3HX5f4Z1xKCV4A" target="_blank">cooking videos</a> offer healthy, creative ways to eat <a href="https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=PR005" target="_blank">pre-contact</a>, Indigenous foods. The recipes abstain from highly-processed grains, dairy, and sugar, ingredients that did not become standard in diets of the Americas until European colonization. Indigikitchen hopes that its recipes inspire Indigenous cooks to connect with Native foods.</p>
9. Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (North America)<p>The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas provides model policies for Tribal governments to help <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/05/colby-duren-talks-indigenous-food-and-agriculture-policy/" target="_blank">promote and protect food sovereignty</a>. They also co-organize the Native Farm Bill Coalition with the <a href="https://shakopeedakota.org/" target="_blank">Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community</a>, the <a href="https://www.indianag.org/" target="_blank">Intertribal Agriculture Council</a>, and the <a href="http://www.ncai.org/" target="_blank">National Congress of American Indians</a>. The Initiative hosts annual <a href="https://indigenousfoodandag.com/resources/native-youth-summit/" target="_blank">Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summits</a>, where American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian youth can learn about agricultural business, land stewardship, agricultural law, and more.</p>
10. Indigenous Food Systems Network (North America)<p>The Indigenous Food Systems Network (IFSN) is a convener of Indigenous food producers, researchers, and policymakers across the 98 Indigenous nations of Canada. IFSN supports research, policy reform, and direct action that builds food sovereignty in Indigenous communities. The organization's Indigenous Food Sovereignty <a href="http://www.bcfsn.org/mailman/listinfo/ifs_bcfsn.org" target="_blank">email listserv</a> offers its subscribers everything from stories and legends to recipes and policy reform tools.</p>
11. Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty (International)<p>Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty is an international organization based in Rome, Italy connecting the world's Indigenous People to agricultural research and advocacy groups. With Indigenous communities from China to India and Thailand to Latin America, Indigenous Partnerships forges dialogues within Indigenous communities to ensure <a href="http://www.fao.org/indigenous-peoples/our-pillars/fpic/en/" target="_blank">free, prior, and informed consent</a> between research and advocacy partners. Indigenous Partnerships also seeks to incorporate global and local Indigenous knowledge into non-Indigenous knowledge systems.</p>
12. Indigenous Terra Madre (International)<p>Indigenous Terra Madre is a global network of Indigenous Peoples sponsored by <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/06/living-the-slow-food-life-during-lockdown/" target="_blank">Slow Food</a>, an international institution based in Rome, Italy. The network amplifies Indigenous voices and protects the biodiversity of the crops Indigenous communities cultivate. By providing a platform for Indigenous communities to pool power and resources, Indigenous Terra Madre fights to defend the land, culture, and opportunity of all Indigenous Peoples.</p>
13. Intertribal Agriculture Council (North America)<p>The American Indian Food Program by the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) helps Native American and Alaskan Native agribusinesses and food entrepreneurs expand their market reach. The Made/Produced by American Indians Trademark promoted by the IAC identifies certified American Indian products and is used by over 500 businesses. IAC's other major American Indian Food Program, Native Food Connection, helps market Native American foods and food producers across the United States. IAC also offers technical and natural resource assistance to connect Native businesses with U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and conservation stewardship resources.</p>
14. Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska (North America)<p>Through its Alaskan Inuit Food Sovereignty Initiative, the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska is convening Inuit community leaders from across Alaska. The Initiative seeks to unify Inuit throughout the state to advocate for land and wildlife management sovereignty. The Initiative also strives for international cooperation to promote food sovereignty across <a href="https://indigenouspeoplesatlasofcanada.ca/article/inuit-nunangat/" target="_blank">Inuit Nunaat</a>.</p>
15. Mantasa (Asia)<p>Mantasa is a research institution in Indonesia dedicated to expanding the number of indigenous plants consumed by the Javanese people. According to Mantasa, only 20 plant species comprise 90 percent of Javanese food needs. Their research is incorporating new wild foods from Indonesia's vast biodiversity into Javanese diets to improve food security and nutrition. Mantasa also helps promote these foods to consumers and local farmers to increase their popularity.</p>
16. Muonde Trust (Africa)<p>In Mazvhiwa, Zimbabwe, the Muonde Trust invests in Indigenous innovations in food, land, and water management. The Trust seeks out individuals with new ideas and provides peer-to-peer support to help bring those ideas to life. Muonde Trust currently supports innovations in indigenous seed saving and sharing, livestock and woodland management, irrigation systems, and constructing kitchen spaces.</p>
17. Native American Agriculture Fund (North America)<p>The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) is the largest philanthropic supporter of Native American agriculture. The Fund offers grants to Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions to support healthy lands, healthy people, and healthy economies. In 2020, NAAF is offering US$1 million in grant funds specifically for youth initiatives and young farmers and ranchers. NAAF is also centralizing COVID-19 relief information for Native farmers, ranchers, fishers, and Tribal governments.</p>
18. Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (North America)<p>The Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA) places Indigenous farmers, wild-crafters, fishers, hunters, ranchers, and eaters at the center of the fight to restore Indigenous food systems and self-determination. NAFSA's primary initiatives are the Indigenous Seedkeepers Network, the Food and Culinary Mentorship Program, and their Native Food Sovereignty Events. Each of these initiatives centers around the reclamation of Indigenous seeds and foods.</p>
19. Native Seed/SEARCH (North America)<p>Native Seed/SEARCH preserves and proliferates <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/a-call-for-community-based-seed-diversity-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/" target="_blank">indigenous seeds</a> through their Native Access programs. Their Native American Seed Request program offers free seed packets to Native Americans living in or originating from the Greater Southwestern Region. The Bulk Seed Exchange allows growers to pay it forward by returning 1.5 times the seeds they receive to be put towards future Native American Seed Request packs. While Native Seed/SEARCH sells an assortment of popular seeds to the general public, its collection of indigenous seeds are <a href="https://www.nativeseeds.org/pages/native-access" target="_blank">only available to Native farmers</a> and families. They hope these seeds will revitalize traditional foods and build food sovereignty.</p>
20. Navajo Ethno-Agriculture (North America)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">Navajo Ethno-Agriculture is sustaining Navajo culture through lessons on traditional farming. The seasonal courses focus on land, water, and food as students cultivate, harvest, and prepare heritage crops. During COVID-19, Navajo Ethno-Agriculture suspended its courses and is focusing on supplying neighboring farms with heritage seeds and farm equipment. They are also offering food processing and packaging services to protect and rejuvenate soil.</span><br></p>
21. North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (North America)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">Founded by the chefs of </span><a href="https://sioux-chef.com/" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">The Sioux Chef</a><span style="background-color: initial;">, North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NāTIFS) is reimagining the North American food system as a generator of wealth and good health for Native communities. The organization seeks to reverse the effects of forced assimilation and colonization through food entrepreneurship and a reclamation of ancestral education. NāTIFS is establishing an </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/indigenousfoodlab/" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">Indigenous Food Lab</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a training center and restaurant for Native chefs and food. NāTIFS plans to eventually spread this model across North America.</span><br></p>
22. Oyate Teca Project (North America)<p><br></p><p>In response to dire food access on the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota, the Oyate Teca Project offers year-long classes in gardening, food entrepreneurship, and traditional food preservation techniques. Oyate Teca helps make local foods available to the community by selling produce grown in their half-acre garden at farmer's markets. The project also serves as an emergency food provider for families and children.</p>
23. Tebtebba (Asia)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">Tebtebba is an international organization based in the Philippines committed to sharing global Indigenous wisdom. Its Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity project strengthens Indigenous organizations' research, policy advocacy, and education on biodiversity. The project also works directly with Indigenous communities to strengthen their governance structures, protect their land, and improve their food security.</span><br></p>
24. Sierra Seeds (North America)<p><br></p><p><a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/06/new-on-the-podcast-rowen-white-talks-indigenous-seed-sovereignty-and-viraj-puri-says-urban-greenhouses-can-transform-produce/" target="_blank">Rowan White</a> and her organization, Sierra Seeds, are dedicated to the next generation of farmers, gardeners, and food justice activists. Her flagship program, Seed Seva, offers a multi-layered education on seed stewardship and Indigenous permaculture. The program is offered online, allowing anybody to access White's wisdom. Additionally, Sierra Seeds offers a <a href="https://sierraseeds.org/seeding-change/" target="_blank">Seeding Change</a> leadership incubator, where emerging food justice leaders meet virtually to support one another while developing individual projects.</p>
25. Storying Kaitiakitanga (Oceania)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">Storying Kaitiakitanga – A Kaupapa Māori Land and Water Food Story is a project of Dr. Jessica Hutchings and other Māori researchers and storytellers. The project was developed as part of the </span><a href="https://www.ourlandandwater.nz/" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">Our Land and Water National Science Challenge</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> to collect the stories of Māori food producers across the food system. Storying Kaitiakitanga is exploring how traditional Māori principles and practices can inspire more sustainable food systems for the next generation. Stories include beekeepers, yogurt producers, and business development service providers.</span><br></p>
26. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (North America)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a grassroots Lakota organization building food sovereignty on the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota. Their reservation-wide Food Sovereignty Coalition is dedicated to reconstructing a healthy local food system. They have greatly increased food production on the reservation and train residents and students on Oglala food histories, current local foods, gardening, and food preservation.</span><br></p>
27. Wangi Tangni (Central America)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">In Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast, the women of Indigenous Miskita communities receive native plants from Wangi Tangni to grow for food, medicine, and reforestation. The organization provides communal and legal support for women, many of whom do not speak Spanish. The organization's overall mission is to promote political participation and gender equality through sustainable development projects such as indigenous plant rematriation.</span><br></p>
28. Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (North America)<p><span style="background-color: initial;">The public schools of the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico and Arizona partner with the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project to build gardening spaces and provide nutrition education. The partnership is intended to reintroduce traditional knowledge and practices into students' educations about food. The Project hopes that the community gardens will also inspire more Zuni to grow their own food and reduce rates of obesity and diabetes in their communities.</span><br></p>
- Indigikitchen Is Bringing Native Food Sovereignty Online - EcoWatch ›
- 8 Gardening Tips From Indigenous Food Growers - EcoWatch ›
- Indigenous Peoples Hold the Past and Future of Food in Their Hands - EcoWatch ›
By Olivia Sullivan
One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.
Kamikatsu, Japan. Yuki Shimazu / CC BY-SA 2.0<p>This reveals a worldwide truth: Even products made mostly from easily recyclable materials like paper, aluminum or cardboard can't be sorted and recycled if they contain plastic components that can't be separated.</p><p>The truth is, some materials simply aren't recyclable, and <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782" target="_blank">only 9%</a> of all the plastic ever created has <em>been </em>recycled. As Kamikatsu's residents have painstakingly proven, no matter how many categories consumers sort their waste into or how diligently they scrub down their plastic food containers, most plastics <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Greenpeace-Report-Circular-Claims-Fall-Flat.pdf" target="_blank">cannot be recycled</a>.</p><p>Meanwhile we keep hearing the <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504091-the-insanity-of-plastic-recycling" target="_blank">industry-driven narrative</a> that recycling can stop plastic from choking our marine life or littering our natural places. That's intentionally misleading.</p><p>Around the world, as in Kamikatsu, plastic is everywhere. With excessive amounts of plastic products and packaging stocked on store shelves, it's clear that zero-waste goals cannot be achieved by consumers alone. Plastic is not a "zero waste" material, so in order to achieve zero waste, companies must stop making so much plastic.</p>
Marine debris collected at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. NOAA<p>We can achieve that. The first steps include banning some of the worst and most polluting single-use plastics, placing a pause on the development of new plastics facilities, and protecting state and local governments' ability to enact more stringent regulations.</p><p>We must also shift the paradigm by holding producers responsible for the waste they create. By requiring new plastic products to contain recycled plastic and making producers fund the collection and recycling of plastic products, producers would be incentivized to design longer lasting products that can <em>actually</em> be reused and recycled.</p><p>These goals — outlined in numerous scientific studies and advocacy reports — have some forward motion. In the United States, a federal bill was recently introduced in both the House and the Senate, the <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5845" target="_blank">Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act</a>. If passed this bill — or others like it on the local, state or national levels — could help move the world beyond single-use plastics and make that needed systemic change a reality.</p><p>The bill hasn't moved forward since it was introduced this past February, but the world is still on a deadline. A recent study published in the journal <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/07/22/science.aba9475" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a> looked at rising levels of plastic production and said "coordinated global action is urgently needed to reduce plastic consumption, increase rates of reuse, waste collection and recycling, expand safe disposal systems and accelerate innovation in the plastic value chain."</p><p>Requiring producers to stop making nonrecyclable products designed to be thrown out is the first step toward achieving that goal. Only then will Kamikatsu and other towns, cities and countries around the world finally be able to eliminate plastic pollution and reach 100% zero waste.</p><p><em>The opinions expressed above are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of </em>The Revelator<em>, the Center for Biological Diversity or their employees.</em></p><p><a href="https://therevelator.org/author/oliviasullivan/" target="_blank">Olivia Sullivan</a> <em><em>is a zero waste associate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) working on a campaign to move the United States beyond plastic.</em></em></p><p><em><em><span></span>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/cities-zero-waste/" target="_blank">The Revelator</a>. </em></em></p>