How to Change the Food System
Nine Hard Truths to Move Towards Radical and Lasting Change
Moving into 2021, we’ve had many opportunities to reflect on the issues we care the most about. We’ve realized that good intentions are not enough — we must peel back the layers and focus on the systemic root causes of the injustice that plagues our food system.
We hope that coming into the new year, we can work to be better allies, summoning this passion we have for change in the food system that will bring lasting transformation — this is an opportunity to evolve together, to reflect, and to grow towards the bold, audacious dream of a food system that nurtures everyone, especially the ones who grow our food. Here are nine truths we all need to know about our food system if we want to work towards achieving this goal.
- Increasing yield does not solve hunger. You won’t solve the world’s problems by increasing crop yields. In fact, we already produce enough food to feed 1.5x the global population. The problem is one of access and distribution; a large percentage of crop calories are diverted to more profitable industries like biofuels, animal feed, and now plant-based meat alternatives, rather than feeding people directly. Calories produced is not the same as calories delivered. When people are hungry, it’s not because there is a lack of food — it’s because they cannot access the food that exists because they cannot afford to buy it. This is evidenced by the fact that the majority of the world’s hungry are actually involved in agriculture.
- Industrial agriculture doesn’t feed the world. The peasant food web — a worldwide community of fisherfolk, pastoralists, farmers, ranchers, herders, landless people, craftspeople, tradesmen, and more who use unbridled ingenuity in all sorts of adverse ecological and social conditions to produce 70% of the world’s food — does. They control less than 20% of the world’s resources but they safeguard 80% of the world’s biodiversity while still out producing industrial agribusiness. Further, the majority of the world’s farmers are not white — we must shift narratives about agriculture to center BIPOC communities who really feed the world. So many solutions to the food system’s problems focus on making the industrial food chain better, when efforts would be better placed…